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.
Mr G P Crossey, of Telford, complained that an article on the front page of the newspaper about the death of his daughter, Marilyn Crossey, had incorrectly identified her as a former Cadbury’s Flake girl and had published a picture of a woman who was not Ms Crossey. The newspaper published a correction in a later edition clarifying that the picture was not of Ms Crossey.
However, the correction stated that the original mistake was based on information given to the newspaper. The complainant argued that this was again inaccurate as, during an interview with a journalist from the newspaper, he and his wife had never said that the woman in the photograph was their daughter. In any case, the family were distressed during a difficult time and were too vulnerable to be conducting an interview. (Clauses 1, 5).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a clarification in the following terms: “On 11 October the Shropshire Star printed an article about the death of Marilyn Crossey in which we said she had featured in an advert for Cadbury’s Flake. We accept that this is not the case and the article was incorrect. We apologise to Miss Crossey’s family for the additional distress caused to them by the mistake.”
Spark of Genius (Trading) Ltd and Spark of Genius Trust complained through Harper Macleod LLP of Glasgow that an article, which claimed that its home for children with emotional and behavioural problems at North Lodge had been opened “illegally”, was inaccurate and misleading. As it was, the complainant considered that – contrary to South Ayrshire Council’s position – the existing use class for the premises (Class 9 under Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997) was sufficient. Moreover, at the time of the article, no enforcement notice had been issued by the council. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published an agreed follow-up article which made clear that an enforcement notice had been issued by the council and that this had been appealed by the complainant. The article quoted a spokesman for Spark of Genius extensively, outlining its position that it had “at no stage acted illegally” and that there was “no question of any illegality on the part of Spark of Genius unless and until the enforcement notice is upheld following appeal and there is then a failure to comply with the terms of that notice”.
A man complained that an article reporting on the latest finding against the council by the Local Government Ombudsman contained inaccuracies. Specifically, the complainant said that the article had inaccurately stated that planning permission for a raised parking platform was granted by the planning committee.
In fact, permission was granted by a single officer acted under delegated powers. The complainant was also concerned that the claim that the council’s decision to refuse an application for a similar platform on a nearby site led the Ombudsman to conclude that the council may have refused the first application. In fact, the Local Government Ombudsman came to this conclusion before the council decided to refuse an application for a similar platform on a nearby site, and not because of that decision. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification:
“Local Government Ombudsman decision
“In an article headed ‘Council defends planning service’, published on 11 July, 2008, we reported that the Local Government Ombudsman had found against Caradon District Council after its planning committee granted permission for a raised parking platform without taking all relevant policies into account. We would like to clarify that this permission was actually granted by a planning officer under delegated powers, and not by the planning committee as stated.
“We also reported that the council’s decision to refuse an application for a similar platform on a nearby side led the Ombudsman to conclude that the council may have refused the first application. We would like to clarify that the Ombudsman was minded to conclude maladministration with injustice for the first application before the refusal of the similar platform on a nearby site.”
Anthony Darwin, of Basingstoke, complained that the newspaper had printed details of his private bank account. (Clause 3).
Resolution: The newspaper apologised for printing the complainant’s private information. It also confirmed that the relevant details were removed from its website as soon as it became aware of the mistake and that they would not reappear.
Evening Chronicle and The Journal, Newcastle
Ronald Nesbit, of Northumberland, complained that an article inaccurately suggested that two local businesses were profitable. In fact, he claimed that they were neither profitable nor successful. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved amicably between the complainant and the newspaper.
James McDaid, of West Kilbride, complained that numerous comments which followed a blog entry were inaccurate, offensive and discriminatory. (Clauses 1, 12).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper removed all the comments from the blog entry and reviewed its complaints procedures.