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.
Reading Evening Post
Clint Best, of Reading, complained that a series of articles had inaccurately claimed that a man of his name, age and address had been accused and found guilty of involvement in a drug ring. In fact, the Clint Best who had been involved was 19 years old. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification: Several articles published at the end of last year reported on the trial of a drug gang, and referred to one of the accused as Clint Best, 37, of Liverpool Road. Although these details were supplied by the court, we have been asked to make clear that these articles referred to the wrong man. As our article of March 13 (‘Fast cars and high living’) set out, the Clint Best who was accused and convicted of conspiracy to supply drugs was aged 19. We are happy to clarify the situation.
Caterham & District Advertiser
A woman complained that a report of a garden waste fire in which her husband had been injured had named her and her husband against her wishes. Further, the news editor had failed to call her prior to publication, despite the assurances of the reporter. (Clause 3)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved after the editor wrote to the complainant confirming that the article had been deleted from the newspaper’s records, and apologising that the news editor had failed to call before publication.
E B Reed, of Wakefield, complained that an article recalling the birth of her sister Marian Chapman in 1938 – the “world’s smallest baby”, born weighing only 10 ounces – contained a number of inaccuracies. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper – which marked its internal records with the complainant’s concerns and gave an assurance that any further stories in relation to her sister would be run by her before publication – published a follow-up article with the complainant’s approval.
East Anglian Daily Times
Marian Sedwell, of Leiston, raised concerns over the publication of an article reporting that a body, believed to be that of her fiancé Paul Brown, who had been missing for 18 months, had been discovered. The complainant had not known about the discovery of the body, which had not been officially identified, prior to publication of the article. She complained that the newspaper had not acted with sufficient sensitivity. Moreover, the complainant raised concerns that she had not given consent to the use of her name or a past quote. (Clauses 3, 5)
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the editor wrote to the complainant apologising for the distress caused by the article, explaining that the newspaper had attempted to contact her, and indicating that he had reminded journalists that it was vital to conduct themselves with sensitivity at all times in matters such as this.
A woman from Cheshire explained that she had contacted the newspaper by telephone to advise it that two charities – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal National Institute for the Blind – continued to take donations of postage stamps. She raised concerns that the information had been presented – without her permission – as a reader’s letter that included her name and address when she had a complicated family history. (Clauses 1, 3)
Resolution: The newspaper apologised to the complainant and explained that the mistake came about from a misunderstanding on the part of the reporter that took her telephone call. The complaint was resolved on the basis of a letter of apology from the editor of the newspaper and an undertaking that it had tightened its procedures regarding the publishing of letters.
Paisley Daily Express
Alistair Wylie, chair of the Friarshall Gate Residents’ Association, complained that an article was inaccurate when it reported as fact that “reckless vandals” had set fire to a car in the complex. The complainant said that the police were still investigating the incident and it had not yet been determined whether this was an act of vandalism or a simple electrical fire. The complainant was also concerned that the article had referred to the estate as Friars Gate, rather than Friarshall Gate. Finally, the complainant was unhappy that the newspaper had taken a photograph of the car inside the development, which was clearly marked as private property, without prior permission. (Clauses 1, 3)
Resolution: The newspaper stood by the accuracy of its article and stated that the information in relation to the alleged vandalism originated from a reliable source. It had also been given a statement from the police which claimed that they were treating the incident as “wilful fire raising”. It would not apologise for the publication of the photograph which, it said, was taken on property which was accessible to the public.
The complainant was unhappy with the newspaper’s attitude but did not wish for the complaint to proceed to the Commission for a formal decision under the Code. Rather, he requested a summary of the case to be published on the Commission’s website.
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