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Killer’s dad complains to IPSO after regional dailies call son a ‘cannibal’

Matthew WilliamsA killer’s father complained to the press watchdog after two regional dailies described his son as a “cannibal”.

Chris Williams, whose son Matthew, left, fatally attacked Cerys Yemm before himself dying in custody after police tasered him, went to the Independent Press Standards Organisation after stories were published by both the South Wales Argus and the South Wales Evening Post.

Mr Williams said article by the Newport-based Argus and Swansea-based Evening Post had inaccurately referred to his son as a “cannibal”, despite no official cause of death being established for Ms Yemm at the time of publication.

He said that reports of a cannibalistic element to the attack were based on statements by witnesses and locals, which he believed were incorrect.

Mr Williams complained to IPSO under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, but agreed to put his respective complaints on hold until an inquest into Ms Yemm’s death was held.

Said inquest found that cannibalism had not taken place, and Mr Williams maintained therefore it had been inaccurate for the Argus and Evening Post to report this prior to the hearing when it had not been confirmed as fact.

The Argus said its article had been provided by an agency, which had contacted the police several times after Ms Yemm’s death, but had not received confirmation that the reports from witnesses and friends were inaccurate.

The article had made clear that the claims were based upon comments made by witnesses, including a 999 call which was later heard at the inquest.

The Evening Post said its story was also based on witness accounts and the 999 call, but added that the findings of the inquest did not make the article inaccurate because it was published before the hearing’s findings were known.

After the inquest, both newspapers ran articles making clear that claims of cannibalism had been disproved through medical evidence.

Mr Williams said this resolved the matter to his satisfaction, and IPSO made no determination on breach of Code for either paper.

The full resolution statements can be found here.