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Scottish weekly’s apology over court report

A Scottish weekly newspaper has tightened its court reporting procedures following a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission about an inaccurate story.

The Helensburgh Advertiser published an apology after incorrectly stating that a  man had committed both an indecent assault on a women and an assault on a man two days later. The court had in fact accepted a not guilty plea regarding the first charge.

The newspaper had taken the information from charge sheets from the Sheriff Clerk’s office at Dumbarton Sheriff Court. It said that any changes to charges were normally handwritten on the sheets but in this case had not been.

As a result of the complaint the newspaper printed a correction and apology in the next edition.

It has now changed its practice in regard to reporting court proceedings so that details on charge sheets will be double checked with the sheriff clerk or the defence solicitor to ensure accuracy, with any uncertainty in regard to cases being brought to the attention of the editor.

The press watchdog said that the newspaper had taken a sufficient form of remedial action in printing a correction and apology on page three and cited it as an “example of how the complaints process can directly lead to improved standards for the future.”