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News site says sorry to man who smashed up mum’s grave with hammer

ipso-green-320A regional news website had apologised to a man who smashed up his late mother’s headstone with a hammer.

Get Surrey apologised to Larry Zalcman over inaccuracies which reported he had vandalised the grave because of a financial dispute with her, when in fact he had done so due to his upset at discovering that he and his sister had not been referred to in the inscription.

In a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, Mr Zalcman said the article had also wrongly reported that he had been arrested for “causing criminal damage” and incorrectly stated he had been approached for a comment.

Get Surrey accepted that the alleged financial dispute had not been referred to during the court proceedings, and it offered to remove the reference to it from the article.

It added that the agency which had supplied the copy had approached the complainant for comment outside court.

Get Surrey printed apology and offered to contact third party websites which had repeated the story to request the removal of the article before an adjudication was made by IPSO.

The full resolution statement can be read here.

Other recent IPSO cases involving regional newspapers include:

Cree v Belfast Telegraph

Nicola Cree complained that the Belfast Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article reported that Jacqueline Crymble, who is serving a 20-year sentence for killing her husband Paul Crymble, had been warned to stay away from the funeral of her brother, Stephen Cree.

The complainant, the sister of Stephen Cree and Jacqueline Crymble, said that she told a reporter from the Bel Tel who contacted her through Facebook that the family did not want Ms Crymble to attend the funeral, but that she requested that the information remained private.

She claimed the Facebook messages seemed to be sent in an attempt to prey on the grief stricken and vulnerable state of her and her family, adding the publication of the article had added to their pain and distress at an already difficult time.

The Bel Tel said that the complainant initially thanked her for the contact, which was made to let her know they were running a story, and said it was unfortunate that this well-intentioned gesture has been interpreted in the way that it had.

Before contacting the complainant, the reporter had spoken to a friend of the family who confirmed their position and that, in the circumstances, it was more appropriate and respectful to report the complainant’s opposition to the proposed attendance at the funeral rather than say nothing of her feelings.

IPSO did not consider that any clear request was made not to include her comments in the article. The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.

The headteacher of Hawthorn Tree School v The Lincolnshire Echo and Boston Target

The headteacher of Hawthorn Tree School complained that the Lincolnshire Echo and Boston Target breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article which reported that a four-year-old girl had been left in pain for three hours after teachers failed to notice she had dislocated her elbow.

In the article it quoted the child’s mother, who said that the teachers could not explain what had happened, and reported the position of the school’s headteacher, who said that the incident had been fully explored and he was “satisfied that in the circumstances we did all we could to support the child”.

The headteacher claimed he was not told the details of the parents’ claims, which were reported, and said that he told the reporter that, without any medical evidence, he considered that “from a legal perspective, the injury did not happen”.

The sister newspapers considered that it was reasonable to rely on the parents’ account of the incident, but contacted the school to put the claims to them and included the complainant’s response in the article.

While the complainant now disputed that the child had dislocated her elbow during the incident, the titles said he was not in a position to provide any evidence to counter the account provided by the child’s parents.

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