A weekly newspaper apologised after naming a 17-year-old girl who tragically died in a homeless hostel.
Eiddwen Jones complained to the Press Complaints Commission over a story in the Cambrian News which she said had breached Clauses 3 (Privacy) and 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice
The story had reported on details of a Safeguarding Children Report into the death of her daughter which identified her by name although the report had referred to her only as Child Z.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following apology:
“In our report headlined ‘Damning findings after death of tragic Erin, 17, at hostel’, published on 5 September, we identified Erin Jones as a teenager who had tragically died in a hostel in Borth, even though the official report only identified her as ‘Child Z’. We appreciate that the story and pictures of Erin and her mother caused upset to her family and apologise for any distress caused.”
Here is our regular round-up of other recent PCC cases involving local and regional newspapers.
Rhodes v Fife Free Press
Sandra Rhodes complained complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) about six articles reporting on a Scottish Funding Council investigation into Adam Smith College, in Kirkcaldy, where the complainant had previously worked.
She said it was not the case that she had held the position of ‘executive director’ at the college, and she objected to the publication of her photograph.
Ms Rhodes was also concerned that the newspaper had failed to contact her for comment when producing its reports.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated an undertaking from the newspaper to remove the complainant’s photograph from its archives, and to not use it in future articles, unless new developments about the complainant’s role at Adam Smith College came to light.
The newspaper also committed itself to contact the complainant for comment in relation to any new developments on her position at the college, and published the following clarification:
“In our coverage of events at Adam Smith College between February and June, we described Sandra Rhodes as an executive director. Her job title was in fact director of information management. We are happy to correct this inaccuracy and clarify her position.”
Tina Hallett and Jonathan Apps complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) that the newspapers had included inaccuracies in their coverage of a complaint over a church clock’s chimes.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following clarification as a footnote to the online article:
“We have been asked to make it clear that it was not the bell which was silenced but in fact the church clock chimes. At the time of our story, it had not been possible to turn off the chimes for specific hours but a few days later this was done so the clock now chimes during the day but not at night. The complainants say others had complained directly to the church before they did, and that they themselves raised the matter with the church before the council issued the abatement order. We are happy to clarify these points.”
Rolfe v Sevenoaks Chronicle
Mark Rolfe, the leader of a Scout Group, complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) that the newspaper had published an article which inaccurately suggested that the Scout Group had been unhappy with a £250 grant provided for them by the Parish Council.
He considered that this misleadingly portrayed the group as being ungrateful for the Parish Council’s support.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following clarification:
“BOROUGH GREEN: The village Scout group was delighted to receive a £250 grant from the parish council in July to go towards a camp trip to Cornwall. In our July 19 story “Scouts refused a £1,500 holiday grant by council,” we published a picture caption saying they were “not happy.” In fact they were happy with, and grateful for, the grant.”
Miller v Belfast News Letter
Gordon Miller complained under Clauses 1 (Accuracy), 4 (Harassment) and 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) that the newspaper over a report on the inquiry into the Claudy Bombing on the 40th anniversary of the atrocity of which his father was a victim.
The complainant said the article was misleading claiming it attributed quotations to him that he had stated in the past as though he had stated them just prior to publication. The complainant also considered that an archive photo of himself accompanying the article misleadingly appeared to have been taken at the time of publication.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of a clarification which stated:
“Our article “‘Too late’ for Claudy families” (30 July) was accompanied by a photograph of Gordon Miller at the Claudy bombing memorial statue. We have been asked to make clear that this was an archive image and was not taken at the time of publication of the article.”
Brown v Lancashire Telegraph
The Rev Pat Brown complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) that the newspaper had published inaccurate information about a planning application affecting Barnes Square Methodist Church in Clayton-le-Moors. The complainant also disputed the accuracy of several quotations attributed to him in the article.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of a follow-up article clarifying several points, which also included an apology for the suggestion that the church was “to be flattened within days”.
Reed v Bridgenorth Journal
Reed v Shropshire Star
Mr & Mrs Simon Reed, owners of the Pheasant Inn pub, complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) that the newspaper’s coverage of a meeting of local residents opposed to their plans to change from commercial to residential premises was inaccurate and misleading. The complainants were also concerned that the newspaper had not sought to verify the claims with them prior to publication.
The matter was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following correction:
“Our article of 20 July reported that more than 50 local residents had attended a meeting to protest an application to convert the Pheasant Inn pub from commercial to residential use.
“The article included comment from Friends of the Pheasant Committee member Vanessa Lee, who stated that ‘representatives of the local Hunt, fishing clubs, walkers and fishing and shooting syndicates said they would willingly use the pub again if there was a more welcoming atmosphere’ and that ‘a huge number of residents in the parish and within a 2.5 mile radius had pledged they would use it again if there was a change of landlord’.
“Owners of the Pheasant Inn, Mr & Mrs Simon Reed, have asked us to point out their understanding that attendance at the meeting was in fact lower than 50.
“They dispute that the meeting could be accurately described as ‘public’, given that those unwilling to sign up on entry to “Friends of The Pheasant” membership were denied entry and ejected. The Reeds strongly deny any suggestion of an ‘unwelcoming atmosphere’, or that there is any evidence a change of landlord would have such an impact on the pub’s trade. The proprietors highlight that, in the period of their 29 year ownership, the Pheasant Inn has regularly hosted events for local clubs, including the Hunt and local shooting syndicate; neither of which, they are informed, had any official epresentation at the meeting. The Reeds say that the leader of the local fishing club used the pub on a weekly basis and the annual Club meeting had been held at the Pheasant Inn for many years. They are unaware of a local walking group, but point out that that the pub has often catered for organised groups outside the immediate area. All of these groups, they say, continued to use the pub until its closure. Finally, the Reeds highlight that the pub has over many years been listed in a number of Guides on an unsolicited basis, praised for services provided and been the subject of very favourable press reviews.
“We regret that the views of Mr and Mrs Reed were not sought prior to publication and apologise to them for any misleading impression created by our article.”