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Watchdog dismisses MP’s complaint over reporting of rival candidate

Nadine DorriesAn MP who complained over the apparent inaccurate reporting of a rival election candidate by a regional Sunday newspaper has had her complaint dismissed by the press regulator.

Nadine Dorries, Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Bedfordshire on Sunday had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article which stated she would not attend a hustings event if Independent candidate Tim Ireland attended.

Ms Dorries, pictured above left, had previously complained to the police about Mr Ireland, but that the Crown Prosecution Service had not taken any action on the matter.

She said it was inaccurate to state that “no further action” had been taken in relation to the other candidate’s behaviour towards her and that the police had previously issued him with a warning.

She also said that it was inaccurate to describe him as a “marketing consultant and writer”, when in fact he worked in a sandwich shop, and that he was not from the village of Harlington as reported.

Furthermore, Ms Dorries considered it inaccurate to state Mr Ireland “campaigned for victims of injustice”.

The newspaper defended the accuracy of its coverage, stating the information had been provided by Mr Ireland for a separate piece introducing all local parliamentary candidates ahead of last month’s General Election.

Furthermore, he was named as on “online marketing consultant” in material published by polling organisation YouGov, and his campaign material listed his address as being in Harlington.

IPSO found the newspaper was entitled to publish biographical material provided by a candidate, and that the complainant had not disputed that the CPS had taken no further action in relation to her complaints.

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

Other recent IPSO cases involving regional newspapers include:

Hope v Ayrshire Post and Hope v Dumfries and Galloway Standard

Jonathan Hope complained that the Ayrshire Post had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) in an article about the parents of children involved with a youth football team saying they had been “disgusted” by the discovery that the complainant had a criminal conviction for downloading child pornography.

The complainant said his role with the club had been misrepresented as he was not actively involved with the club and did not sponsor the team, although his name had been put on the back of the shirts as a gesture for his having found the team a sponsor.

He further expressed concern that the journalist had used his involvement in football as a means to disclose the fact that he had a spent criminal conviction.

The Post said it was not significantly misleading to report that he sponsored the club because his name appeared on their shirts, and that it was entitled to publish details of his conviction – particularly as his involvement in the club was a matter of public concern.

The newspaper also raised serious concerns about the conduct of the complainant during the course of IPSO’s investigation, including allegations that the complainant had sent abusive messages over the internet to the reporter who had provided material for the report and others under complaint.

These allegations, denied by the complainant, formed the basis of a complaint to the police and the matter remains under the consideration of the Procurator Fiscal as of the date this decision was issued.

IPSO did not uphold the complaint, and the full adjudication can be read here.

A similar complaint by Hope against the Dumfries and Galloway Standard was also dismissed, and the full adjudication can be read here.

Dangerfield v Sunday Herald

Gordon Dangerfield complained the Sunday Herald had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) over an article reported that former MSP Tommy Sheridan had incurred legal costs of nearly £250,000 in an attempt to appeal his conviction for perjury, and that the state was liable for these costs.

The complainant, Mr Sheridan’s solicitor, was quoted as saying the cost to the public of Mr Sheridan’s defence was a “drop in the ocean of the millions spent by Rupert Murdoch”.

Mr Dangerfield said he had offer a lengthy comment to the Herald and the way in which the comment had been edited rendered it misleading, as he had not intended to compare money spent by Rupert Murdoch with the cost to the tax payer.

The newspaper aid that the comment had been edited for legal reasons, as it had no way to check the veracity of the statement, and that the edited comment had not distorted its meaning.

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