A weekly newspaper has apologised after incorrectly reporting that a child injured by a car was pushed into the road as part of a prank.
The mother of the injured child complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the Kent and Sussex Courier had breached three clauses of the Editors’ Code of Practice in its coverage of the incident.
She said the article was inaccurate in stating that her daughter was pushed into the road and that the story was an intrusion into grief or shock.
The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a clarification and apology:
It read: “On January 20 we published a report about a girl who had been injured after being hit by a car. Our report suggested she had been the victim of a prank when she was shoved before falling off the kerb into the path of the car.
“We have been asked to make clear that the teenager was not shoved. We are happy to do so and apologise to the family for any distress our report may have caused.”
The newspaper also wrote privately to the complainant’s daughter.
Other recently resolved cases involving regional newspapers are as follows:
Reid v Daily Record
Gair & Gibson Solicitors complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) on behalf of Ms Mary Reid over an article claiming she had denied being a Gypsy.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the online article, and the publication of the following apology:
“On 31 January, as part of an article concerning the pending court case against Mary Reid over the filling in of a census form, we incorrectly stated that she had denied being a Gypsy. In fact, Mary Reid is a Gypsy and is extremely proud of her heritage. At no time has she said that she is not a Gypsy. We offer her our apologies for this error.”
Baird v Daventry Express
Mr Ronald Baird complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) over three articles reporting on his arrest, conviction and sentencing to four years imprisonment for inciting underage girls to engage in sexual activity. The complainant said that the newspaper had reported aspects of the offence in a misleading way.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following clarification:
“On July 7, the Daventry Express carried a report on the conviction of Ronald Baird, 31, for inciting underage girls to engage in sexual activity whilst he was based in Afghanistan. While Mr Baird was convicted of nine charges of inciting three teenage girls to send him explicit pictures, we would like to make clear that no pictures or audio-visual material were sent or received.”
Cunnison v Berwickshire News
Ms Belinda Cunnison, a member of the group ‘Freedom to Choose (Scotland)’, complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) about an article which reported NHS Borders’ new outdoor smoking restrictions.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the following online clarification with a link to the original report:
“In an article published on January 12 about a new NHS Borders smoking policy we incorrectly stated that “failure to comply with the policy is a criminal offence”. The sentence should have stated that “failure to comply with the law is a criminal offence”. We also stated that there would be “harsh penalties” for those who don’t comply with the policy. We accept that this is also misleading and apologise for the error.”
Wood v Yorkshire Evening Post
Adam Wood complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) that the newspaper had misreported the nature of the drug M-Cat.
The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification:
“A recent report in the Yorkshire Evening Post referred to the so-called party drug M-Cat as a “former plant food”. This should have read “formerly sold advertised as a plant food”. We are happy to clear up any confusion.”
Williams v Daily Post (Welsh Edition)
Diana Williams complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) over an article which linked the findings of a number of inquests following deaths in the Anglesey area, including that of her own son.
The complainant was concerned that the article suggested that her son was a methadone addict at the time of his death when, although some drugs were found his system, this was not the case.
The newspaper was able to provide its reporter’s contemporaneous shorthand notes of the inquest which reflected the content of the story.
However, it acknowledged that the complainant disputed some of the information given during proceedings. The complaint was resolved when the newspaper offered to publish, with the complainant’s involvement, a tribute to her son on the anniversary of his death.