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Titles apologise for 'bungling council' 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.

Birmingham Mail/Sunday Mercury
Sarah Davies, on behalf of demolition contractor Coleman & Co, complained that the newspaper had published an article containing a number of inaccurate and misleading statements. (Clause 1).

Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the Birmingham Mail published the following statement:

“Following our article of 30 May 2009 in which we stated that a family were left homeless when bungling council contractors accidentally destroyed their home, we can confirm that the Health and Safety Executive have concluded that demolition contractors Coleman & Co were not to blame for the accident. A director of Coleman & Co did apologise in person to the family for the inconvenience caused and we apologise to Coleman & Co for these errors.”

  • A similar statement was carried by the Sunday Mercury.

  • Belfast Telegraph
    An individual complained that an article about a Rathlin Island Ferry employee, whose identity had been revealed to the company after he had expressed concerns about safety procedures, had contained inaccuracies and – by the inclusion of certain information – had identified the employee concerned. (Clauses 1, 3).

    Resolution: The complaint was resolved by the publication of the following clarification and apology:

    “Our article of 10 December 2008 (Government unmasked ferry safety ‘whistleblower’) reported that the identity of a Rathlin Island Ferry employee who had raised concerns about safety procedures had been revealed to the company by the Department of Regional Development. We now understand that information contained in our article inadvertently identified the employee concerned.

    “We would like to apologise for this intrusion, and to clarify that the whistleblower’s concerns related to risk assessments on new vessels rather than to safety concerns about the ferry he worked on, as reported. The article also reported that an employee of Calmac – who had previously operated the ferry passenger service – had claimed that DRD staff had harassed him when he declined to copy log book information to pass to Rathlin Island Ferry.

    “In fact, the individual was asked to copy International Safety Management documentation. While the inquiry found no evidence to support the claim of bullying, it did confirm that a request to copy such information was made, contrary to the impression that may have been created by our article. We are happy to set the record straight.”

    Evening Standard
    Martin Webster complained that an article about the death of Blair Peach in the Southall riot of 23 April 1979 was inaccurate and misleading in regard to the involvement of the National Front. He was also concerned that the newspaper had failed to respond to his direct correspondence before lodging a formal complaint with the PCC. (Clause 1).

    Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following letter from the complainant:

    “Your article of 15 April about the death of Blair Peach in the Southall riot of 23 April 1979 claimed that a National Front ‘rally’ was ‘an act of deliberate provocation’. In fact, the rioting commenced at 1.30pm, six hours before the meeting was due to start, with no NF presence.

    “There were no ‘clashes between white skinheads and ‘pretty angry Asians youths” and no members of the NF were arrested on that day. The NF meeting was a public election meeting organised on behalf of John Fairhurst, its candidate in the impending General Election.

    “There was never any instance of NF members ‘rampaging around Brick Lane’, let alone ‘every weekend’. NF members had a long-established pitch at the corner of Brick Lane and Bethnal Green Road where they sold party publications on Sundays, which became a target of demonstrations by the NF’s opponents from 1978 onwards.”

    Scotland on Sunday
    Simon Lowe, managing director of Know the Score Books Ltd, complained that an article based on the autobiography of former footballer John Wark had presented the information contained within the book in an inaccurate and misleading manner. (Clause 1).

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

    “On 15 March 2009 the Scotland on Sunday published an article about Wark On, the autobiography of former Scotland footballer John Wark. We would like to make clear that Mr Wark does not consider the entire current Liverpool FC squad to be ‘a massive waste of money’, as stated in the article.

    “In fact, Mr Wark was referring in name to four specific Liverpool players, rather than the squad as a whole. In addition, Mr Wark has asked us to point out that – when he sold his allocation of FA Cup final tickets in 1978 – this practice was both lawful and within Football Association rules. We are happy to set the record straight.”

    Chester Chronicle
    Police officer Gareth Cooper complained that the newspaper had published his full address. (Clause 3).

    Resolution: The newspaper explained that it did not publish full addresses of serving police officers unless there was an overriding reason, and apologised that it had failed to adhere to its policy. The editor-in-chief wrote a letter of apology to the complainant confirming this position, and the complaint was resolved on that basis.”