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Sunday newspaper takes down story after PCC complaint

A regional newspaper removed a story from its website after relatives complained that it was “insensitive.”

The family of Francis Haydock complained to the Press Complaints Commission about a report into his death carried in Birmingham’s Sunday Mercury.

They claimed the story was both insensitive in breach of Clause Five of the Editor’s Code of Practice, which covers intrusion into grief, and misleading in breach of Clause One, which covers accuracy.

The Trinity Mirror-owned title did not agree it had breached the code, but agreed to take the online version of the story down and also published a clarification.

It read:  “In an article of December 4, 2011 reporting on the death of Mr Francis Haydock the Sunday Mercury described Mr Haydock as a “computer addict” and “computer game obsessive”, who suffered a fit that could have been caused by flashing lights from a computer game.

“We have been asked to make clear that Mr Haydock was neither described as an “obsessive” nor an “addict” at the inquest.

“We regret any upset caused to Mr Haydock’s family.

“We have also been asked to state that the Coroner did not come to a definitive conclusion that his fit was caused by the game.”

A separate complaint against sister title the Birmingham Mail was also resolved.

The PCC said:  “The newspaper responded substantively to the complaint by explaining the background to its coverage and setting out its position that there was no breach of the Code. The complainant considered the matter resolved on the basis of the newspaper’s response.”