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Paper's apology after rape acquittal goes unreported

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

Northants Evening Telegraph
Peter Bye complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper – which reported that his son, Steven Bye, had been charged with the rape of a 15-year-old girl – had failed to report that he had been acquitted and released after trial. He was also concerned that the newspaper had published the street name and town in which his son lived. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following statement, under the heading ‘Cleared of rape’, on page three. The editor also wrote a personal letter, which apologised to Mr Steven Bye.

“A Desborough man has been cleared of raping a 15-year-old child. Steven Bye, 39, of Rushton Road had pleaded not guilty to an incident alleged to have happened in October 2008 and was cleared at the Northampton Crown Court on 7 December.”

Bury Times
Tim Cowen, on behalf of NSL, complained that the newspaper had claimed that the company’s traffic wardens in Bury made mistakes with one in every four parking tickets issued to motorists, when the actual figure was less than one percent. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a correction and, following the inadvertent publication in the same issue of a letter criticising the company on the basis of the original article, when it published a further letter from the complainant. The correction read:

“A report in last week’s Bury Times wrongly suggested that traffic wardens in the town make mistakes with more than one in four of the parking tickets they issue. In fact, NSL, the company which employs traffic wardens on behalf of Bury Council, says they have an error rate of less than one per cent, and accurately issue more than 99.25 per cent of all tickets.

“The company says that most tickets which are subsequently cancelled are done so at the local authority’s discretion because of mitigating circumstances, and not because the ticket was wrongly issued. We apologise for the error.”

Chorley Guardian
Jim Taylor complained that the newspaper had published a distorted image of United Nations soldiers on the front page which was both an inaccurate representation of the armed forced and wrongly implied that the army would be responsible for issuing penalty notices in Chorley. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a clarification – including an editorial note – in the following terms:

“On 22 July the Chorley Guardian published a story about former soldiers being set to take over from Parkwise in the town. It follows Chorley Council’s decision not to renew its contract with Parkwise to regulate their off-street parking and hold talks with a firm connected to the Royal British Legion. We illustrated it with a generic picture of some serving soldiers.

“We’ve been contacted by a reader who believes the picture is misleading. The Guardian would like to make it clear that the soldiers pictured are not Chorley’s next generation of parking wardens. We’d also like to put on record our admiration for their work, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

News and Star
Kathleen Rowley, of the Carlisle United Supporters Club, complained that the newspaper had inaccurately reported the situation regarding the transport of fans to and from Carlisle United’s away games. The newspaper had published one clarification on the subject but the complainant felt there were outstanding issues. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a correction and apology with due prominence in the following terms:

“A story in the News and Star of Wednesday, 16 September, reported that a new coach service had been launched to take Carlisle United fans to away games because of the boycott of buses organised by the Fans’ Trust group.

“We have since corrected this information as the Carlisle Supporters’ Trust has never been involved in the organisation of away travel for supporters. We apologise for the error and any embarrassment caused from the original article and for the fact that no-one from the Fans’ trust or the Supporters’ Away Travel group were contacted at the time.”

The Herald, Glasgow
Louisa Harry Thomas, of Gower, complained that the newspaper had given the impression that the Kingscliff Sporting Lodge, Aberdeenshire, had gone into receivership whilst in the hands of her and her husband, when they had actually sold the business several weeks beforehand. (Clause 1).

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

“In The Herald of 15 August, we described Chris and Louisa Harry Thomas as owners of Kingscliff Sporting Lodge, which had gone into administration. The business went into receivership while under the ownership of Tony Loftus, who bought it two-and-a-half weeks before the receiver was appointed. We apologise for the error.”

A similar complaint was lodged against the Press and Journal, Aberdeen. It carried a follow-up story with this passage:

“Mrs Louisa Harry Thomas sold her shares and controlling interest to Mr Tony Loftus, of the Miller’s, Midmar, Aberdeenshire, and then moved with her husband to Wales. However, when Kingscliff was placed into administration several weeks later, the sale had not yet been ratified and Mrs Harry Thomas was still listed as the sole director and a shareholder.”