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Newspaper corrects girlfriend assault sentence mix-up

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.

Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter
Kevin McCartney complained that an article was inaccurate when it stated that he was sent to jail for 16 weeks in 2005 for attacking his girlfriend. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following correction and apology:
“Regarding an article which appeared in the Reporter on April 8 2008, we would like to clarify that nurse Kevin McCartney, 45, of Alexandria, was not jailed for attacking his girlfriend as was reported. Mr McCartney’s 16-week jail sentence was suspended for two years. We apologise to Mr McCartney for the error in the reporting of this detail.”

Croydon Advertiser
Jenny George from Croydon – a member of the Addiscombe, Woodside and Shirley Leisure Gardens – complained about an article which reported on the retrial of a former member of the allotment who was originally found guilty of false accounting. The complainant said that the retrial was ordered because of a procedural error, rather than a flaw in the evidence. She said that the article did not make clear that it was only after the accused paid the money back that no further evidence was offered against him. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The newspaper published a follow-up article allowing the complainant to respond and to make clear that the money had been repaid. That article is reproduced below:
“Keen-gardeners are snapping up allotments at the Addiscombe, Woodside and Shirley Leisure Gardens which now has a waiting list for the first time in its history. The popular 29-acre site, off Glenthorne Avenue, has 30 people waiting on its books for a plot, it has been revealed. It is a new chapter in the site’s history after being involved in a two-year court case. Its former ground steward Bill Evans, 74, of Howard Road, South Norwood, was accused of conning members out of nearly £3,000. He insists he was asked to buy 500 pyracantha plants for the allotment and then netted a profit of £2,916. But Jenny George, of Addiscombe, Woodside and Shirley Leisure Gardens, said: ‘We didn’t ask him to get them, he got them off his own back.’ Mr Evans was charged with false accounting – which he denied – but the case was thrown out against him on October 12 last year after he paid back £2,916 and no evidence was offered against him. He has been suspended from the Gardens since September 2006. Ms George added: ‘The atmosphere of the site has improved greatly. People work together in working parties around the shared areas of the site.'”

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, complained that the newspaper had intruded into the privacy of his children by publishing photographs of them on holiday. The images showed them walking in a street and sitting aboard a boat in a town in Turkey. Mr Johnson made clear that his children were entitled to a private life despite his own public profile. (Clauses 3, 6)

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the editor of thelondonpaper sent a letter to the mayor and his wife apologising for publication of the pictures. He made clear that as soon as he had been made aware of their concerns, the photographs had been removed from the newspaper’s website and internal archive. He assured them that thelondonpaper would abide by the Code of Practice regarding the family’s privacy in the future.

Tavistock Times
David Gibbons, of the Tamar Valley Donkey Park and Sanctuary, complained that an article reporting the court case of a man accused of sexually touching young girls had inaccurately implied that the donkey sanctuary still belonged to this individual. In fact, the charged individual had sold the sanctuary in 1999. The complainant was concerned that the coverage would be damaging to the business. (Clause 1)

Resolution: The complaint was resolved by the publication – prior to the involvement of the PCC – of a statement below a follow up article on the matter. This statement clarified that the charged individual had sold the donkey sanctuary in 1999 and that he had no connection with the current owners.

  • Mr Gibbons also made a complaint against the Cornish Times over the same story. The Cornish Times resolved this by publishing the following statement above a follow up article on the court case:
    “We have been asked to clarify that this court case involves a former owner of the Tamar Valley Donkey Sanctuary and is no way connected with the present owners who have been there since 1999.”

    Western Telegraph
    Chris Peck, of London, complained that an article about a 20mph speed limit outside primary schools in Swansea included a quote from a deceased individual. (Clause 1).

    Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper accepted that an error had been made, ensured that it would not be repeated in the future and apologised to the complainant.