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Watchdog rejects complaint against Welsh daily

The Press Complaints Commission has thrown out a complaint against the South Wales Evening Post from a man who admitted assaulting a disabled driver.

Nicholas Stubbs, from Swansea, had admitted in court to assaulting disabled Lee Davies while he sat in his car.

A story headline ‘Road Rage Attack Terror’, published on page one of the South Wales Evening Post in November, said Stubbs had throttled Mr Davies and told him “his house would be burned down”.

But Stubbs claimed the paper was wrong to state as fact in the story that he had threatened to burn down Mr Davies’ property.

No charge of making threats to kill had been brought and the prosecution’s statement about the alleged threat went unchallenged by the defence as it was made during sentencing, that is after Stubbs had already admitted the assault.

Even though the page one story had stated as fact that Stubbs had made threats, the inside report on page five clearly attributed the threat claim to the prosecuting solicitor.

The newspaper maintained the article was an accurate report of the trial and, as the alleged threat had been stated in court and not challenged, it could be reported as fact once the trial was completed.

The PCC rejected the complaint from Stubbs that there had been a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of its Code of Conduct.

In its adjudication, it said: “Whether or not Mr Stubbs had been charged at any point with a threat to kill Mr Davies was not particularly relevant, as it seemed that the prosecuting solicitor had nonetheless told the court that he had threatened to burn Mr Davies’ house down during the incident.

“While the Commission could understand why the complainant might object to this assertion being made…..the newspaper was nonetheless entitled under the Code to report it in the context of the conviction.

“Against the backdrop of Mr Stubbs’ guilty plea, what was apparently said in court, and the fact that there was no doubt that he had lost his temper with Mr Davies, the commission did not consider that there was any significant inaccuracy in the coverage of the case that required correction.”