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Scottish Sunday cleared of breaching code

A Scottish newspaper has been cleared of breaching the editors’ Code of Practice when it reported concerns about a paid consultancy involving a Labour peer.

The Press Complaints Commission has ruled in favour of the Sunday Herald following a complaint by the peer Lord Foulkes, who is also a member of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood

In a front page story on 1 February, the Herald reported that a complaint had been made to the Holyrood Standards Commissioner about Lord Foulkes undertaking lobbying and consultancy work for Eversheds law firm.

While there was no dispute that such a complaint had been made, Lord Foulkes said he had told the newspaper prior to publication that a similar previous complaint had been rejected by the Standards Commissioner – yet the newspaper had not included that information in its report.

He claimed this failure was likely to mislead readers, but the Commission disagreed.

In its ruling, it said the newspaper was entitled to report the fact was that a new complaint had been made and had yet to be decided by the Standards Commissioner.

The PCC said the article did not seek to give a view about the merits of the complaint, and it included a quote from the complainant expressing confidence that it would be dismissed.

In these circumstances, “there was no obligation on the newspaper to publish a fuller explanation about why the complainant thought it would be dismissed,” the Commission ruled.