While the Advertiser was cleare of wrongdoing in relation to most of Ch Insp McGarry’s complaints, it was found to have failed to take care over the accuracy of information supplied to it by a “well-placed source” which appeared in three of the stories.
The stories cast doubt over evidence given by the complainant to a licensing committee hearing into the future of a Croydon nightclub called Dice Bar, which he had issued with a closure notice because a customer in a nearby street had been seen on CCTV with a “large knife” – despite the arresting officers making no mention of a weapon in their accounts of the incident.
Ch Insp McGarry had told the committee that he had taken the CCTV to a “forensic hub” and had seen what he had believed to be a knife, adding the officer who had been unable to see the knife had used “low grade technology” to view the footage.
The Advertiser reported that the complainant had informed the nightclub owner the day after the incident that CCTV footage had shown the customer with a “large knife”, which contrasted with his written evidence, in which he had said that he had first seen the footage eight days after the incident.
However, the Advertiser’s source claimed officers who want CCTV footage to be digitally enhanced or analysed had to send it to a central unit, with such requests taking weeks to fulfil.
In his complaint to IPSO the chief inspector said, contrary to the information given by the source, that Croydon police station had its own forensic hub where he had been able to slow down and view the enhanced CCTV footage.
Ch Insp McGarry’s commanding officer had declined to comment on the existence of a forensic hub at Croydon police station when approached by the Advertiser before publication, but the paper had not asked for comment on the serious allegation that the complainant had been unable to access facilities that would have enabled him to view the enhanced footage as he had claimed in his evidence to the licensing committee.
IPSO found this represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the information in breach of Clause 1(i) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, which relates to accuracy.
The Advertiser had accepted during the course of IPSO’s investigation that the information provided by the source had been inaccurate, and offered to amend the relevant articles and to append a corrective footnote.
IPSO dismissed the rest of Ch Insp McGarry’s complaints against the newspaper, which included accusations of inaccuracies in stories which reported he had driven a police van along a pavement to “force clubbers out of Croydon town centre” and described him as a “close ally” of a racist police officer who was later sacked for gross misconduct after refusing to attend reports of a stabbing.
The complaint was upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.