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IPSO dimisses Afghanistan veteran’s complaint over court story

IPSO_logo_newAn Afghanistan veteran given a restraining order for harassing his ex-partner has had his complaint over a regional daily’s coverage of the case dismissed by the press regulator.

The complainant, an airman in the Royal Air Force, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Swindon Advertiser breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in its reporting of his appearance at Swindon Magistrates’ Court.

The Advertiser had reported he had been charged with stalking and harassment, which he said was inaccurate due to an error on the charge sheet and had been made clear by the clerks of the court, the magistrate and the prosecution.

The newspaper provided a copy of the court list, which mentioned charges of stalking and harassment, and added a reporter had been in court for the full duration of the proceedings.

It provided a copy of the reporter’s shorthand notes from the court hearing, and said that he did not hear any discussion about an amendment to charges by the court staff.

However the Advertiser did not dispute that the complainant was only charged with harassment and published a page three clarification two days after the initial page 10 story appeared.

It also amended the online version to remove the inaccurate charge – adding in further positive comments made by the complainant’s RAF senior officer, who had been a character witness in court.

The complainant said this did not adequately deal with what was a significant inaccuracy.

However, IPSO found the newspaper had issued the clarification with greater prominence than the initial story and that it had taken steps to ensure the accuracy of the article.

The complaint was not upheld.

Other recent IPSO cases involving regional newspapers include:

Burbage Council v Hinckley Times

Burbage Parish Council complained the Hinckley Times had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) over an article expressing a family’s concern their recently relative’s body would have to be exhumed because of a row over burial plots.

The council said no such consideration had been made, and that the newspaper had adopted the family’s concern as fact.

It also denied that the newspaper had mentioned the family’s claim about exhumation when seeking comments from a representative of the authority on the matter.

The newspaper said it had contacted the council over the family’s concerns to provide it with an opportunity to reply, and that their fears over exhumation had been specifically mentioned by the reporter over the phone.

The council responded it could not answer questions over the phone, but would provide a statement via email, which was then included in the article.

The Times published a follow-up article which reported that the dispute had been resolved, including the council’s denial exhumation had been a possibility, and also offered to publish a clarification making this clear.

IPSO found the story had been an accurate report of the family’s concerns, which the Times had been entitled to report on.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.

Ata-Amonoo v Bristol Post

Ama Ata-Amonoo complained the Bristol Post had breached Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) in its report of an inquest into the death of her brother.

The complainant was concerned he article disclosed her brother’s full address, his employment situation and details of his private life and relationship, adding the reporter at the inquest had assured her and her family that if an article on the inquest were to be written, it would be in the public interest, and that the family’s wishes would be respected.

She said her sister had also been assured no article would be published during a visit to the Post’s office.

The newspaper said the details mentioned had been disclosed as part of inquest proceedings, and reporter explained that it was unlikely that the inquest would not be reported.

The reporter passed on the family’s request, but the news editor decided to publish the report.

The decision was relayed to the complainant’s sister on her visit to the offices.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.