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Press watchdog raps regional daily after headline error

A regional daily which wrongly reported a couple were jailed for assault has been rapped by the press watchdog.

Charlotte Mace complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the The Citizen, Gloucester, had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined ‘Couple jailed for attacking three sisters’, published on 2 October 2015.

The front-page headline referred to an article on page two, which ran with the headline ‘Couple’s ‘nasty’ assaults had no racist undertones’.

The article reported that the complainant and her partner Mark Ridler had been convicted of attacking three Asian sisters, but cleared of having a racist motive for the attack, following a trial at Gloucester Crown Court. It explained that the case had been adjourned for sentence until 22 October.

Gloucester Mace

Ms Mace said that it was inaccurate to report that she and her partner had been jailed, as sentencing had been adjourned at the conclusion of the trial. She said that the front-page headline had caused damage and stress to her and her partner, pictured above.

The Citizen accepted that the headline on the front-page was inaccurate, explaining a sub-editor composing the front-page caption close to deadline had misread the article on page two and wrote that the couple had been jailed, rather than convicted.

However, the newspaper said that the caption on the front page referred readers to the court report on page 2two, where it was made clear that sentencing had been adjourned until 22 October.

It was approached by the family of the complainant’s partner after publication, and published a correction on page six of the next available edition.

The Citizen covered the pair’s sentencing hearing, which appeared in a prominent position on page eight with the headline ‘Couple spared jail for attacking three sisters’, but the complainant had turned down the opportunity of an interview.

In addition to these measures, the newspaper said that it would be willing the re-publish the correction on page two, where the original article had appeared.

IPSO found the error represented a failure to take care over the article’s accuracy, but decided the original correction had been published with due prominence in the paper – negating the need for a further clarification to be printed.

The complaint was upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.


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  • February 15, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    And nobody else proofed it after the ‘sub’ wrote it? They didn’t proof the front page?? Welcome to journalism 2016-style.

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