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Headline on reader’s letter prompts PCC complaint

A reader took his weekly newspaper to the Press Complaints Commission after it inaccurately headlined a letter he had written.

Paul Mathieu complained that the Ealing Gazette had breached Clause 2 of the Editor’s Code which covers opportunity to reply.

The newspaper had published a letter from Mr Mathieu outlining his concerns about the redevelopment plans for Ealing Broadway Station, and had headlined it “Crossrail is bad news for station”.

However Mr Mathieu did not consider this to be an accurate summary of his position, and was further concerned that a letter of response from another reader inaccurately attributed the headline to him.

Mr Mathieu then submitted a follow-up letter of his own, which was not published.

The complaint was resolved after the PCC negotiated the publication of the complainant’s second letter under the headline ‘Does Crossrail meet our needs?’

Other recent PCC cases involving regional newspapers include:

A woman v Exeter Express & Echo

A woman complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Privacy) about a report of criminal proceedings in which she was a witness.

The complaint was resolved after the PCC negotiated amendments to the online version of the story

Wood v Bristol Post

Mr Ben Wood complained under Clause 1 about a photo caption stating that he had been ‘restrained’ by police at a demonstration, something which the complainant did not accept was correct.

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following clarification:

“In a caption accompanying this photograph about protests between the English Defence League and Anti-Fascist Campaigners on College Green in January we stated that Ben Wood was restrained by police.

“Avon and Somerset Police have since explained that Mr Wood inadvertently walked into the opposing English Defence League demonstration and did not attempt to cross the line of police officers which separated the two groups. We are happy to clarify the situation.”

Moss & Parkinson v Daily Record

Mr Craig Moss and Ms Ruth Parkinson complained about four articles which they considered to have been inaccurate and intrusive in breach of Clauses 1 (Accuracy) and 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock).

The complainants were particularly concerned at a suggestion that their late daughter, Sophie Parkinson, died “after being tormented by bullies”.

While the paper did not accept a breach of the Code, it apologised for aspects of its story, removed the piece from its website and made a charitable donation to Childline as a gesture of goodwill.