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.
Press and Journal, Aberdeen Elizabeth Cutting, Public Information Officer at Parliament House, Edinburgh, complained on behalf of Sheriff Janys Scott QC that the newspaper had inaccurately reported that, whilst presiding over a Fatal Accident Inquiry in court, Sheriff Scott had been moved to tears by the testimony of the dead woman’s mother. (Clause: none noted).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper agreed to send a private letter to Sheriff Scott acknowledging that the matter was disputed by the Sheriff and by four other witnesses in court, and stating that the newspaper had not intended to imply any lack of professionalism on her part.
Wandsworth Guardian, Wandsworth Borough News
Patrick Lethaby, of Wandsworth Oasis Trading Co Ltd, complained that articles in both newspapers, reporting that the company was under investigation by the Charity Commission, contained inaccuracies. First, the complainant said that the reference to a branch of Wandsworth Oasis, in Earlsfield, was incorrect, as this shop had closed some years earlier.
He also raised concerns that the articles had detailed that the company had £34,555 of “other establishment expenses”, and made clear that the company’s auditor was able to account for the money. Finally, the complainant indicated that the Charity Commission had not found any evidence of wrongdoing in its investigation. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved by the publication of the following clarification in the Wandstead Guardian:
“A recent article (Wandsworth Borough News, 10 September – Aids Charity Shop Under Investigation, Wandsworth Guardian, 11 September – Where’s the Money Gone?) reported that Wandsworth Oasis Trading Company was under investigation by the Charity Commission. In that article we referred erroneously to a branch of Wandsworth Oasis in Garratt Lane, Earlsfield.
“In fact, there has been no shop there for three years. Claims that locals said that staff inaccurately suggested that the organisation was a charity did not therefore apply to this shop. Company Secretary Patrick Lethaby has also asked us to clarify that he referred the issue of ‘other establishment expenses’ to the company’s auditor, who was able to account for the money.
“The Charity Commission found that there was no extant link between Wandsworth Oasis Trading Company and Wandsworth Oasis Aids Support Centre and closed its case. We are happy to clarify the matter.”
David Grant of Kilmarnock complained that a report of a court case in which he was involved was inaccurate and misleading. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following correction and apology, in addition to removing the online version of the article:
“A recent article about a man convicted for careless driving was incorrectly headlined ‘Preacher swore at car couple’. David Grant, of Kilmarnock, was accused in court of swearing at two people in another car. However, this formed no part of the complaint and was dismissed by the sheriff. We are happy to set the record straight and apologise for the error.”
Stephen Magee complained through Harte Coyle Collins Solicitors that the newspaper had published an article purporting to be an exclusive interview with him. In fact, he had not spoken to the publication, and denied making the statements attributed to him. The article was therefore inaccurate and claimed false authenticity for the story. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved by the publication of the following statement:
“An article published in Sunday Life concerning Stephen Magee was wrongly described as ‘an exclusive behind-bars interview’ on 24 August, 2008. We would clarify that no interview took place with Mr Magee and, in fact, the article was based on a statement supplied by Mr Magee’s sister, without Mr Magee’s knowledge or consent.
“None of the comments in the article can be attributed to Mr Magee. We apologise to Mr Magee for the error and any misunderstanding that was caused.”
The Star, Sheffield
Camilla Oates of Sheffield complained that the newspaper had published an article based on comments her parents had made about her struggle with an eating disorder without her consent. (Clause 3).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a further article focussing on the complainant’s own comments about the origins of her eating disorder, treatment she had received in the past, counselling and nutritionist sessions she currently undertook, how she coped on an everyday basis and her views on the fashion industry and awareness of the problem of eating disorders.