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Courier gun story sparks mother’s complaint

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.

Warwick Courier
A woman complained that an article about the decision to overturn her son’s exclusion from Myton School had stated as fact that he had held a BB gun to another pupil’s head. In fact, this was an allegation; an independent appeal panel had decided to reinstate him. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a clarification in the following terms:

“Myton School exclusion – a clarification
“On 23 May, we reported that a boy who had been excluded from Myton School had held a BB gun, an imitation firearm, to another pupil’s head. We have been asked to point out that this accusation formed a major part of the appeal hearing to review the boy’s permanent exclusion, and that the decision of the appeal panel to reinstate him was in large measure due to the unreliability of evidence behind that accusation. We apologise for not making it clear that this incident was an allegation and not a confirmed fact as our article implied.”

Wanstead and Woodford Guardian
Kathleen Allinson, of Essex, complained that a reporter from the newspaper had approached her for comment at the school gates when she was picking up her children. She explained that this followed a report on a teacher at the school who had been convicted of making and distributing obscene images of her engaging in sexual acts with children (this conviction did not involve children at the school). (Clauses 1, 4).

Resolution: The newspaper said the reporter approached the complainant outside the school on only one occasion. That said, the newspaper undertook that none of its staff would approach the complainant again in connection with the case. The complainant accepted this undertaking as a resolution to her complaint.

Essex Chronicle
Yvonne Turbin, of Essex, complained on behalf of her brother, Roy Carter – who had recently been convicted of supplying drugs – that the newspaper had published a photograph which appeared to show him standing with a convicted drug dealer. The complainant said her brother had never been photographed with the dealer. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The newspaper accepted that the image could have been interpreted misleadingly to suggest that Mr Carter and the dealer were standing beside one another when, in fact, the image was of two separate photographs. The published image was removed from the newspaper’s archive to ensure that it was not republished.

In addition, the newspaper wrote privately to Mr Carter to confirm that the image should not have been published and that it recognised that his conviction was unrelated to that of the dealer. The complaint was resolved on that basis.

North West Evening Mail
Norman Hill, of Barrow, complained that a published letter written by William O’Brien – a member of the People’s Party – contained the inaccurate claim that at one time he had been ‘one of our allies’. Although he knew of Mr O’Brien, the complainant had never met him and would never be allied to the People’s Party. The complainant raised additional concerns about the letter, including over Mr O’Brien’s questioning of the reason for his failure to be elected in the recent election. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a letter from the complainant in the following terms:

“People’s Party member William O’Brien stated we were once ‘allies’ (Evening Mail, 16 June). I categorically state that I do not know, nor have ever conversed or communicated with, William O’Brien and I would never be an ‘ally’ of publicity-seeking political opportunists and their leader J Hamezeian, known as the People’s Party.
“Mr O’Brien ‘wonders why?’ councillor J Hamezeian was re-elected for Ormsgill Ward when I failed to be elected in Central Ward. Well it is really quite simple – I only obtained enough votes to achieve third position in a competition of five candidates. But of course William O’Brien must surely know that it is how democracy works – so why the question?
“Is he implying he knows of other reasons for my lack of success in the May election? If so, he should, in fairness, identify them so I may have an opportunity to respond. If not, exactly what is the purpose of his question?”

Croydon Advertiser
Anne Giles, of South Croydon, complained that a number of comments posted after an online article purported to be from her when they were not. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper explained its moderation system and confirmed how the complainant could seek the removal of comments if a similar situation occurred in the future.