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Mother's protest over misleading murder story

Below are summaries of complaints involving the regional press which have been resolved between the parties involved, with help from the Press Complaints Commission.

Liverpool Echo
Kathryn Crook complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the article – which reported the sentencing of the man who murdered her son – inaccurately reported what had been said by the judge, creating the misleading impression that her son had sexually assaulted his attacker, when in fact the jury had rejected any such suggestion.

She also expressed her concern that that the reference to her son’s homosexuality was discriminatory. (Clauses 1, 12).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification:

“On December 17, we reported that Ian Cunliffe, 41, had been jailed for life for the murder of John Crook, 31, with whom he had lodged in Mill Lane, Wavertree. It was stated that Mr Justice Clarke had told Cunliffe that he took into account that he had claimed he attacked Mr Crook because he had been provoked as his victim had made sexual advances. This was incorrect.

“In fact, what the judge said he had taken into account was a psychiatric report referring to Cunliffe being sexually assaulted when he was a child. We apologise to Mr Crook’s family for any distress caused by the error.”

Wigan Evening Post
Julie Clark complained that a headline to an article had reported inaccurately that her son Carl Bostock had admitted being drunk when his car collided with a pedestrian, who later died, when in fact he had no alcohol in his system at all. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification as part of its coverage of Mr Bostock’s sentencing:

“The headline on a previous article regarding Carl Bostock incorrectly read, ‘Drunk driver admits killing a loving granddad.’ We have been asked to point out that he was under the influence of drugs and not drink.

“He was initially charged with causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs. The newspaper also wrote to the complainant’s son, acknowledging the inaccurate headline.

Lancashire Evening Post
Pauline Robinson of Preston complained that the newspaper had given the misleading impression that she had willingly colluded with a friend in instigating an inquiry by the General Medical Council against her husband, when the other individual had actually been acting against her wishes. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The newspaper did not believe that its original article had been likely to give a misleading impression on this point, but the complaint was resolved when it altered the online article to give a more detailed account of the complainant’s role in the affair, making it clear that she had not colluded in instigating the inquiry.

Waltham Forest Guardian
Judy Chivers complained, on behalf of her son Sean Lucas, that the newspaper had inaccurately reported that her son was a “murderer” when, in fact, he had been sentenced for manslaughter. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper: offered an explanation as to how the error occurred; published a correction and apology in the newspaper and sent a private letter of apology to the complainant and her family.

Ulster Herald
An employee of Translink complained that an article reporting on an incident where an individual had been denied access to a bus had contained the inaccurate claim that he had been “smoking against the wall” when approached.

The complainant made clear that he was a non-smoker and that the bus stand where the incident occurred was, in any case, a no-smoking area. (Clause 1).

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

“Our article of 6 August (‘Translink passenger laments poor service’) reported that Omagh student Shane McGlone had been denied access to the Dungannon to Omagh bus as he did not have the correct change, and included his position that one of the Translink bus drivers who refused to allow him to board had been “smoking against the wall”.

“We have been asked to clarify that the bus driver concerned is a non-smoker, and was not smoking when he was approached by Mr McGlone.”