A photograph of Chas Lynch’s truck appeared in the Salisbury Journal, which has been cleared overall by the Independent Press Standards Organisation of wrongdoing, after the picture was sent to the paper along with a police press release about an operation checking vehicles.
But Mr Lynch said the use of the photo had given the impression that he was a “rogue trader”, despite only being told to get a worn bearing repaired by those carrying out the checks.
However, despite ordering a clarification offered by the newspaper to be printed, IPSO found the Journal had been entitled to rely on the photograph provided by the police.
Mr Lynch complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice about the article, which reported that eight offences had been enforced after intelligence-led roadside checks of vehicles by Wiltshire Police and Trading Standards.
He admitted his truck had been stopped by police, but after being issued with a prohibition notice for the fault he had made the relevant repair, ending the matter.
Mr Lynch had painted his distinctive vehicle, which has a unique body, and added that as a one-man builder he could not afford the negative impression given by the article – which had already led to a sub-contractor asking him about what had been published.
The Journal said the photograph was supplied by the police and was published in good faith, while the article was written in a fair and accurate way.
The photo did not display the registration plate or any company branding, but offered to print a clarification.
IPSO found that even though the photograph of the complainant’s vehicle did not display the registration plate or any company livery, it was sufficiently distinctive to be identifiable to people who knew him.
In circumstances where the minor issue with the complainant’s vehicle was not one of the offences highlighted in the headline, sub-headline or text of the article, the Committee considered that the photograph had given the significantly misleading impression of wrongdoing on his part.
The Journal was ordered to publish the clarification it had offered in order to avoid a breach of Clause 1 (ii).
The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.