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Newspaper apology over incorrect sex register claim

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.

Hastings Observer
A Milton Keynes man complained about a poll running on the online edition of the newspaper which asked readers to vote on whether Nick Griffin, of the BNP, should be welcomed to Hastings. The complainant said that on a particular day the vote in favour of welcoming him was increasing from about 60 per cent to 70 per cent until 10.30pm. However, he raised concerns that between midnight and 4am – when most people would have been asleep – the figures changed to just 26 per cent in favour. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The editor of the newspaper explained that the poll had taken place over a week. He reassured the complainant that the newspaper had no influence over the voting. He said that the newspaper only had access to the number of people who had voted at the end of the poll.
The complainant acknowledged the technical difficulties of accessing details about the poll and agreed to resolve his complaint on the basis that a public record of it would be published on the PCC website.

Evening Standard/Daily Mail
Joanne Gorman, of Paignton, complained that three articles which reported that she had been sacked as a teacher following a sexual relationship with a pupil were inaccurate when they claimed that she had been made to sign the Sex Offenders Register. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspapers removed the articles from their websites and the following correction and apology was published in the Daily Mail:
“On January 10 and 12 in our reports on Joanne Gorman, the Paignton teacher who was sacked because she had a sexual relationship with a teenage pupil, we mistakenly said she had been made to sign the Sex Offenders Register. We apologise for getting this wrong.”

Edinburgh Evening News
A woman complained that the newspaper had published a photograph of her 14-year-old child, without permission, to illustrate a story about teenage rioting. She was concerned that the use of the photograph inaccurately implied that her daughter had been involved in the rioting. (Clause 1, 6).
Resolution: The newspaper published the following clarification and apology, prior to the involvement of the PCC, as a response to the complaint:
“Images of two girls in the vicinity of the Tesco Extra store, in Corstorphine, were published on page six of the Evening News on Saturday, December 15, alongside an article saying that gangs of teenagers were terrorising staff at the retail park.
We have been asked to point out that the two girls who appear in the photograph are in no way connected with the attacks and apologise for any misunderstanding this may have caused.”

While the complainant remained concerned over the embarrassment the publication of the photograph had caused her daughter, she accepted this measure as a resolution to her complaint.

Bolton News
Wendy Cahill, of Manchester, complained on behalf of her son Ross Cahill that an article reporting on his prison sentence had inaccurately claimed that he had entered a house, threatening and attacking the owner. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The newspaper explained that the source of the inaccuracy was a police press release. After the police issued an amended press release, the newspaper published the following correction. The complaint was resolved on that basis:
“In a report on January 19, 2008, headlined ‘Thieves put behind bars after rampage’ it was stated that Ross Cahill, of Kenyon Way, Little Hulton, along with a 16-year-old boy, entered a house in Philips Avenue, Farnworth, and threatened a man with a glass bottle, demanding he hand over his car keys.
We have been asked to point out by Greater Manchester Police that Mr Cahill was not charged over this allegation. The error was due to an administrative error, made in good faith, by the Crown Prosecution Service which provided the police with the information. The police apologise for the inconvenience.”

Irvine herald
Russell Ramsay, of Irvine, complained that an article had inaccurately claimed that Ron Swanson’s father – the late Rev Ron Swanson – had founded the Relief Church, in Bourtreehill. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The newspaper accepted that the point under dispute was inaccurate. The editor published the following correction which satisfactorily resolved the complaint:
“In a recent article on the Relief Church, in Bourtreehill, Irvine, we wrongly stated that the founder was the late Rev Ron Swanson of the Baptist Church. We regret this error.”

Evening Times (Glasgow)
Andrew Stephen, of Cumbernauld, complained that a headline had inaccurately claimed that a train had derailed. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following correction:
“A headline in the Evening Times on December 26 incorrectly stated that a train had been ‘derailed’ by a mystery object when, in fact, it had been stopped in its tracks. We apologise for the error.”