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Press watchdog rejects ‘old photo’ complaint

A man complained that articles in two local newspapers were inaccurate because they contained an old photograph of him and called him as a ‘curious case.’

Matthew Broadfield’s complaint against the Cambridgeshire Times and sister title the Wisbech Standard was rejected by the Press Complaints Commission on the grounds that it did not breach clause one of the Editors’ Code of Practice, which covers accuracy.

Mr Broadfield had claimed that the paper’s articles on his election campaign for Fenland District Council and his organisation of the Fenland Festival contained inaccuracies and presented a distorted picture of him.

In an article which reported that he had changed his surname, the newspaper stated that he was a ‘curious case’. This led him to become concerned that readers would be misled into believing that the police were investigating the matter.

He also felt that two articles about the cancellation of the festival portrayed him in a negative light and an old photo of him was used which did not represent how he looked now.

He said the newspaper had also published a profile on him that included information from his old election manifesto.

The Standard said he had put forward these views recently and were relevant to his credentials as a local councillor and the PCC considered that the newspaper was entitled to publish them.

The commission noted that the article had not mentioned the police and could not establish a breach of the code.

It said it was satisfied that the inclusion of comments from the complainant would have made readers aware of his position, and that the manner of presentation of the articles would have enabled readers to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.

Neither did it consider that the use of an old photograph of the complainant would have significantly misled readers as to his appearance.

The paper’s editor John Elworthy said: “Whilst part of me is delighted to have been cleared – which is no more than I expected- I remain amazed that the complainant was able to occupy so much of my time, and that of the PCC, in responding to it.

“Had the PCC observed the articles appearing throughout this period in our paper they would have realised we were instrumental in pointing out the considerable failings of Mr Broadfield’s previous businesses and the fact he was taking deposits from people for a festival that was beset with difficulties of his own making.”