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IPSO voices concern over lack of reporter’s note to back up quote

The press watchdog has expressed concern after a weekly newspaper was unable to provide reporter’s notes of a conversation in which a hotel was described as a “paedophile’s dream”.

The News Shopper ran a story about a woman’s account of having woken up to see children staring at her while she slept in a hotel bedroom one of the panes of glass in the window in her room was clear.

It quoted her saying that the hotel was a “paedophile’s dream” because it was easy to look inside the room, and that she was not happy with the length of time it took the hotel concerned to deal with her concerns.

The woman claimed she had not agreed to having her name published in the News Shopper, which is published in South-East London and North Kent, adding she had been misquoted.

The window at the hotel

The window at the hotel

But the Independent Press Standards Organisation said it was not in a position to determine whether any agreement not to publish the woman’s name and address had been in place.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 14 (Confidential sources) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, the woman or the reporter to call her before going ahead with the article.

She said that after speaking to the reporter, she was unaware that anything had been published, and only found out about the article following a google search months later.

In response, the News Shopper said its reporter, who no longer worked for the newspaper, spoke to the complainant on a number of occasions prior to publication and that at no point did the complainant ask the reporter not to publish her name or address, nor did she make any request not to publish the story, or to delay publication for any reason.

It said that the reporter stood by the quotes published, and highlighted that the complainant had provided the photographs of the room that were published.

In IPSO’s conclusion, it said had not provided any record of the phrase “paedophile’s dream” being used by the complainant as particularly concerned by the absence of the reporters’ notebook, particularly in circumstances where the complaint was made less than seven months after the articles publication.

Although the Committee was unable to determine whether the complainant had used the phrase when speaking to the reporter, it did not consider that the publication of the phrase gave a significantly misleading impression of the incident, from the complainant’s point of view.

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

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