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.
Manchester Evening News
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association complained that an article had inaccurately reported that a pharmacist’s refusal to provide emergency contraception to a couple was based on his “religious beliefs” and implied that this was because he was a Muslim.
The complainant said that the pharmacist had – as allowed by the pharmacist’s ethical Code – declined to provide the service on “personal and ethical” grounds and had directed them to an alternative pharmacy (despite receiving racist abuse from the man). There was no mention of religion during the exchange and the pharmacist did not indicate that he was a Muslim. (Clauses 1, 12).
Resolution: The newspaper indicated that the article was published after an interview with the couple who had told their version of events: that the pharmacist had declined to provide the pill on “religious grounds”. The store in which the pharmacist worked did not deny the couple’s version of events but gave details of the pharmacist’s ethical Code to support his decision to decline the service.
That said, the newspaper accepted that the pharmacist had not refused to give the drug out on religious grounds and agreed that this claim should have been attributed to the couple in the article. It published the following correction on the point.
“In the M.E.N on 22 May, we reported that a Droylsden couple had been refused the morning-after pill in a branch of Sainsbury’s because of the pharmacist’s religious beliefs. We have been asked to point out that while the pharmacist would have been entitled to have done that, in this case the refusal was made on moral, not religious, grounds.”
The complaint was resolved on this basis.
The Bolton News
Russell Birtwhistle, of Bolton, complained that the newspaper had breached his privacy by publishing his name and the fact of his involvement in confidential police and internal school inquiries, when those inquiries had cleared him of all charges. (Clause 3).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a second article detailing the fact that the complainant had been cleared of all charges by both the police and the school authorities. Whilst the complainant would have preferred to have had some say in the wording of the article and the timing of its publication, he accepted this as a satisfactory resolution.
Daily Post (North Wales)
Audrey Taylor, of Llysfaen, complained that the newspaper had inaccurately reported the Valentine’s Day rates for the White Hart Inn. She said that she had contacted the hotel to make a reservation for the event but was told that the published price could not be met as the manager had not given the tariff to the newspaper. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper arranged for the complainant to spend Valentine’s night at the hotel – in a double room inclusive of breakfast – free of charge, organised for a table for two to be booked in the restaurant on the evening of her stay and published the following clarification and apology:
“An article in last week’s travel section incorrectly stated that Valentine breaks at the White Hart, Lydgate, cost from £49.50 for dinner plus B&B, based on two sharing. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. To find out more about rates and availability please contact the White Hart on 01457 872566 or see www.thewhitehart.co.uk.”
Miss B N K Pillai complained that the newspaper had been inaccurate in reporting the circumstances of two incidents in which children had been injured by her dog. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was considered to be resolved as the newspaper had published a follow-up article detailing the complainant’s account of the two incidents: that the first child had received an accidental scratch caused by the dog’s playful behaviour; that the second child had been provoking the dog and had received only a single puncture wound from the dog’s bite; and that, by the time of the second incident, her dog was elderly, ill and physically impaired.
Maurice Avery complained that the newspaper had published a caption to a photograph which spelled his name incorrectly (“Morris” rather than “Maurice”). (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper (before any contact from the PCC) published the following apology:
“A report in the Faversham Times about the railway exhibition at the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre – ‘Visitors chuffed at rail exhibition’ – incorrectly referred to an exhibitor as Morris Avery. It should have read Maurice Avery. We are happy to set the record straight and apologise for any distress caused by the error. The exhibition at the Fleur de Lis in Preston Street is due to remain open until the end of the week.”