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Reader complains over 'sex pest' reference

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.

Croydon Guardian
Paul Beaumont, of Croydon, complained that the newspaper had inaccurately reported the circumstances under which he had been reprimanded by the General Teaching Council.

He was concerned that the newspaper had referred to him as a ‘sex pest’ and to him ‘molesting’ and ‘fondling’ a colleague, when it had been accepted at the hearing that the incident had occurred in the context of a joke and that the contact had not been intended in a sexual way.

He was also concerned that a photograph of and personal details about him had been included in the article, and that evidence and testimonials heard in his defence, along with mitigating aspects of the ruling, had not been mentioned. (Clauses 1, 3).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper agreed to amend its online article by altering the wording, removing the personal details and photograph and including reference to the relevant evidence, testimonials and aspects of the ruling.

The Citizen/Gloucestershire Echo
James Brookes of Gloucester complained that coverage of his court appeal against a speeding conviction contained significant omissions regarding the reasons for his success: the failure of the individual who calibrated the speed gun to attend court was not the only reason that he won his appeal. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved by the publication in both newspapers of the following clarification:

“James Brookes

“On 16 December 2008 we published an article about the successful appeal by James Brookes following his conviction for speeding in a BMW M3 on the A40 Golden Valley bypass.

“We have been asked to point out that Mr Brookes’ conviction was overturned not only because the court found there was no evidence from the person who carried out the calibration of the speed gun but also because it decided that the evidence of the two police officers who stopped him was insufficient for the case to proceed.

“One officer viewed Mr Brookes’ car only in his rear view mirror and the other saw Mr Brookes’ car only for a matter of seconds. The court also reached their not guilty verdict because Gloucestershire Police did not submit the calibration documents to Mr. Brookes’ barrister within seven days of the trial or appeal date. We are happy to make the position clear.”

Burnley Express and News
Dr Ian Coulson of the Dermatology Unit at Burnley General Hospital complained that the newspaper had published a letter from a reader which contained serious allegations about hygiene provision in the Dermatology Unit which were wholly inaccurate. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a letter from the complainant, a prominent correction and a full apology headlined ‘Stains caused by chemical not blood’.

Hucknall Dispatch
Debra Hargreaves complained that the newspaper had published the names and ages of her children when it was not relevant to the story. (Clause 6).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the editor of the newspaper sent the complainant a letter of explanation and apology via the PCC.

Ilkeston Advertiser
Beryl Webberley complained that an article about the theft of birdbath from her garden contained inaccuracies and had included her personal details without consent. (Clauses 1, 3).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper wrote a private letter to the complainant in addition to publishing the following apology:

“The Ilkeston Advertiser would like to apologise to Mrs Beryl Webberley for any distress which was caused by her personal details being used in the newspaper as part of the article about a birdbath being stolen from her garden.”