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Gun raid photo prompts reader 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.

Barrhead News
Colin Brown complained that the newspaper had published a photograph of his house under the headline ‘Gun raid on Joker’s house’. The photograph showed a row of houses with the complainant’s property as the most prominent.

He said that his house was unconnected to the raid and, therefore, the photograph was misleading. The newspaper had published a clarification but the piece had not made matters clearer and, as such, the complainant sought a further clarification. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The matter was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification on page 7:

“In the Barrhead News on the 26 November 2008, the front page article ‘Gun raid on Joker’s house’ featured a photograph of several houses. We would like to make clear that the house on the left of the photograph was not connected in any way with the gun raid. The Barrhead News is happy to clarify this and apologises for any confusion caused.”

Galloway Gazette
Simon Baggott, company secretary of Conlin Properties Limited, complained that the newspaper inaccurately reported that Conlin Properties had undertaken maintenance works on one of its properties only after an Amenity Notice had been issued by Dumfries and Galloway Council. In fact, the company had undertaken to make the cosmetic improvements already requested by the council, and was in the process of complying with the council’s request at the time the Amenity Notice was issued. (Clause 1).

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

“A report of Wigtown Area Committee proceedings (Gazette, 16 January 2009) stated that the former Grapes Hotel had been of public concern after it began to fall into a dangerous state. We should like to make clear that, following their purchase of the building in 2003, its new owners conducted essential repairs to make it safe. “More recently, having been requested by the council in August 2008 to effect certain works, the owners were in the process of complying when the council issued an amenity notice compelling them to undertake these works. The owners have appealed on the grounds that the issue of the amenity notice was premature and excessive and, in any event, did not allow sufficient time for completion of the works, which were the same as formerly suggested. We regret any wrong impression our report may have caused.”

Birmingham Post
William Haymes, of Coventry, complained that a letter he had submitted for publication was edited in such a way as to alter its meaning before it was printed. The letter, which was about the assassination of President Kennedy, had referred to former US President Ford being a member of the Warren Commission and investigating JFK’s death. However, after editing, the published letter omitted President Ford’s name and attributed his role to Barry Goldwater. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The newspaper acknowledged that the editing process had inadvertently introduced an error into the letter and had, therefore, substantively altered its meaning. The editor thanked the complainant for bringing the matter to his attention and sent him a personal letter of apology.

Belfast Telegraph
A woman from Northern Ireland complained that an article concerning a child ice-skater had incorrectly attributed to her several prestigious achievements – including being in training for the next winter Olympics and being trained by Yuri Bureyko – that were actually the achievements of a different child, Jenna McCorkell. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper agreed to remove the article from their website and annotate their internal databases with the points of the complaint, and also to send a private letter of apology to Miss McCorkell for any offence caused to her.

Abingdon Herald
Councillor Lesley Legge, of Abingdon, complained that a reader’s letter had contained the inaccurate allegation that she had questioned the intelligence of townspeople who had complained about AbITS (Abingdon’s traffic system). (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved by the publication of the following statement:

“Lesley Legge: an apology

“In a letter published on 4 February it was suggested that Councillor Lesley Legge had made a remark questioning the intelligence of townspeople that complained about AbITS. We accept that Cllr Legge has never made a remark of that sort and we apologise for any upset caused by the statement.”

  • A similar complaint was lodged with, and resolved by, the Oxford Mail.