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Church complains to IPSO over story about ‘antisocial’ congregation

ipso-green-320A Catholic church complained to the press watchdog over claims made about its congregation in a weekly newspaper.

St Benet’s Catholic Church denied claims made by people living near to its building that members of its parish were “antisocial and noisy” and left the church at around midnight, as reported in the Lewisham & Catford edition of the News Shopper.

The article had reported on a dispute over noise levels and parking between the church and nearby residents.

One of the residents was reported to have claimed that “sometimes the congregation are coming out at midnight”, and that “the noise levels have been absolutely appalling”.

The article added that the Church’s representative had apologised, had said that “they talk about noise but it’s only a Sunday service”, and said that “I agree there is an issue with parking”.

The church complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the News Shopper had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The church said that the newspaper had reported a brief telephone conversation with one of its representatives out of context, which gave the impression that it accepted the claims made by the local residents.

During this conversation, its representative said that a full response would be sent via email, and the reporter provided him with an email address and various unsuccessful attempts were made to send a response to the newspaper via the email address provided.

It also sent the response, which was not included in the piece, to an alternative email address, as well as a generic email address for the newspaper.

The News Shopper said that it always seeks to gain responses from all parties involved in a particular story and denied that it had provided the complainant with an incorrect email address, but offered a further opportunity for the complainant to respond, either by a further article or a letter.

After IPSO began an investigation into the matter, it offered to publish a feature on the complainant and its positive work in the community with the same prominence as the article under complaint.

The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to its satisfaction, and no adjudication was made.

The full resolution statement can be read here.

IPSO has also adjudicated on the case of Miles v Thanet Gazette.

Peter Miles complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Isle of Thanet Gazette breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article which reported on a proposal to sell off 22 sites as part of a property disposal programme, including The Coach House in Northdown Park, Margate.

Mr Miles claimed the Gazette’s story contained several inaccuracies about Northdown Park represented an intrusion into his privacy because it included his name in association with what he considered to be false allegations against him.

The Gazette denied this and IPSO considered that the newspaper had provided documents to support its position that it had taken care over the accuracy of the article.

While the complainant had contested the interpretation of these documents, he had not been able to demonstrate that they could not be relied upon.

The Committee did not consider that the inclusion of the complainant’s name revealed any private information about him, nor did the details provided in the article represent an unjustified intrusion into his private life.

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