Below are summaries of the latest complaints involving the regional press which have been resolved between the parties involved, with help from the Press Complaints Commission.
Bob Vass, of Aylesbury, complained that an article reporting on an attack by a dog on his son contained inaccuracies. He was particularly concerned that the introduction – which had referred to his son being given a lesson in respecting dogs – would imply to readers that his son was at fault for the incident, and that he was disrespectful, neither of which were true. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification: On Wednesday April 18, the Bucks Herald published an article about the attack on a boy by a dog in a pub garden. The introduction of the article read that a six-year-old boy was given a lesson in respecting dogs. We appreciate that this could have implied blame on the boy himself, and apologise to the family for any upset that this has caused. There was no intention to imply blame to either party, and we would like to apologise if this was indeed the case.
Andrew Malone, of Lancashire, complained that the newspaper had published the names of his 16-year-old son and his friend after they were victims of an attack. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The newspaper made clear that there were no restrictions placed by the court on naming the complainant’s son and his friend. That said, the newspaper could understand the complainant’s concerns and apologised for the distress caused to him and his family. In addition, the newspaper removed the article from its website and wrote private letters of apology to the boys involved. The complaint was resolved on that basis.
Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph
Joga Singh, of Kettering, complained that the newspaper had published the same photograph of his family on two occasions – six months apart – to illustrate the problem of parents parking on double yellow lines. He said he felt his family were being targeted by the newspaper and that his children’s faces were recognisable from the photograph. Furthermore, he raised concerns that readers would have been misled to believe that his wife continually parked illegally. (Clauses 1, 3, 6)
Resolution: The newspaper made the point that no permission was required for taking photographs in public places and the picture under dispute concerned an issue which was in the public interest. However, he could understand why the complainant was upset and offered his assurances that his family was in no way being targeted. The complaint was resolved when the newspaper wrote a private letter of apology to the complainant and published a clarification with the following wording: The Evening Telegraph has been running a campaign highlighting traffic issues outside schools. During the campaign we published a photograph of a car parked near Park Road School in Kettering which was on double yellows. The same photograph was reprinted at a later date to illustrate a similar issue that did not involve this car. We apologise for identifying the people and the car number plate and are sorry if this has caused any problems within the family involved.
Ealing & Acton Gazette
Harish Pattni complained through his solicitors that references in an article to his links to Pattiden Surveyors Ltd could have misled readers into believing that he was currently employed by them, which was not the case. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification: A recent article (‘Double standards?’ – 9 February 2007) reported that Harish Pattni, a senior official at Ealing Homes, was being investigated over a possible conflict of interest due to his links with Pattiden Surveyors Ltd. We have been asked to make clear that Mr Pattni is currently not employed by Pattiden Surveyors Ltd in any capacity, either as Director or Secretary. We are happy to clarify the position.
East Anglian Daily Times
Robert Alderton, of Colchester, complained that an article reporting on his wife’s fight against cancer used the insensitive headline “Cancer ‘cannot be beaten'” and caption “not long to live” to accompany her photograph. (Clause 5)
Resolution: The newspaper accepted that the sub-editing of the article was insensitive and offered its apologies to the complainant and his family. The newspaper offered to publish the following apology, in addition to a follow-up article of which the complainant would be given prior approval.
Further to an article which reported on Julie Alderton’s tragic fight against ovarian cancer (09/02/07), we would like to offer our sincere apologies to Julie’s family for the insensitive headline and caption which accompanied the article.
Roy Montgomery, of Helensburgh, complained that an article inaccurately reported the circumstances surrounding a loan that he had failed to repay his neighbour. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper marked its records to reflect the complainant’s position on the issue.
Lancashire Evening Post
Mr and Mrs J Ashton, of Preston, complained that a photograph which was published on two occasions showing the scene of the accident in which their son had died was insensitive. (Clause 5)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper agreed to amend its records to reflect the complainant’s concerns so that the photograph would not be used in the future.
Evening Chronicle (Newcastle Upon Tyne)
William Banks of Northumberland complained that the newspaper had published a poem he had submitted inaccurately attributing it to “William Brooks”. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a correction and apology on the point.
Ian Smith, of Harborne, complained that a series of newspaper articles which reported on his earnings as an employee of Birmingham City Council while on sick leave contained inaccuracies. In addition, the complainant was concerned that the newspaper had published information which intruded into his family’s privacy – including his house number, car registration plates and a photograph of his wife – and that his wife had been harassed by a reporter and photographer. (Clauses 1, 3, 4)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper – which strenuously rejected the allegation of harassment – published the following correction and apology, in addition to agreeing not to use the photograph of the complainant’s wife in future: In October and November 2006, the Birmingham Mail reported on the controversial earnings of Ian Smith, an employee of Birmingham City Council, while he was off sick. In early editions of November 2 2006, we inadvertently included images of Mr Smith’s house number and car registration plates, something for which we are happy to apologise because this breached our usual policy on privacy. On the same day, we published claims that Mr Smith owned a villa in the Algarve, and at the time carried no response because Mr Smith had declined to speak to us. We have since been made aware that Mr Smith has completely denied this claim, and we fully accept this. We regret any distress this may have caused Mr Smith and his family.
Tony Wright, of Southampton, complained that an article reporting on the inquest into his wife’s death had inaccurately claimed that he had told the hearing that his wife had been drinking heavily last year. The newspaper had also incorrectly set out that Karen Wright had died in hospital, when in fact she had passed away at home. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following statement: A recent report of an inquest into the death of Karen Wright incorrectly stated that her husband told the hearing that she had been drinking heavily la
st year. We have also been asked to make clear that Mrs Wright was not rushed to hospital but died at home. We apologise for any distress caused to Mr Wright and his family.
The editor also indicated that he had spoken to the reporter concerned and had given him guidance about not drawing inference from what people said in circumstances such as this.
Steve Brookstein, the musician, complained that an article had inaccurately suggested that he had tried to use his fame to get his own way in a bar. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following apology to the complainant: Oi, Steve’s a real gent! We’re pleased to hear that Steve Brookstein is always welcome at the Park Tavern in Wandsworth. You might remember how we reported that our two guys at the bar thought that Steve was a tad rude when he and his mates wanted the TV channel changed back to the Spurs v Chelsea game that they were watching. The owner however tells us Steve didn’t come over as anything other than a polite, regular bloke and there was no fuss at all. So we’re sorry mate if we got the wrong impression.
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