AddThis SmartLayers

Weekly apologises to councillor over claim she lied

Linda HallA weekly newspaper has apologised to a councillor it accused of lying about a funding application – even though she admitted comments she made about the issue were “not quite true.”

The Kent & Sussex Courier printed an apology to Councillor Linda Hall, who sits on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, after it claimed she had admitted having lied about submitting an application for funding to restore historic assets in the town of Cranbrook.

The claim appeared in a series of articles after Cllr Hall, pictured above left, had told the Courier in an email that previous comments she had made having applied for funding were “not quite true.”

However, Tory Cllr Hall claimed in a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the expression she had used was deliberately misrepresented by the newspaper and that the email in question had been sent to one of its journalists in error.

In response, the Courier said it had used forthright language about a matter of political debate concerning an elected representative, and editorial discretion should be taken into consideration as to the language used.

Cllr Hall complained to IPSO under Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

She said that when she had initially confirmed to the newspaper that she was formally applying for funding for the project, she had been expecting to submit the application shortly afterwards.

However, she said that had to spend more time investigating a variety of heritage bodies to understand their requirements, adding that when she had written to a colleague saying that it was “not quite true” to say she had submitted the application – an email that she sent to a journalist at the newspaper in error – she was exasperated at how long the process was going to take, and was concerned that she had not gone very far.

The Courier responded that the fact the complainant, who was an opponent to the demolition of the buildings, had stated she was applying for funding to restore the building when she had not done, was sufficient basis for criticism.

The paper said that it was clearly in the public interest to disclose the content of the email as she contradicted a statement she earlier gave to the newspaper.

In order to resolve the complaint, the Courier agreed to remove the articles from its website, and publish a clarification.

It reads: “Earlier [in 2016], the Courier reported that Cllr Dr Hall had ‘lied’ to us about applying for funding to restore heritage buildings earmarked for demolition.

“Cllr Hall has asked us to point out that this was not true, as she had begun research into relevant heritage bodies, but as a result of a heavy TWBC workload had not had time in the week since she spoke to us to complete any applications.

“We apologise for the distress caused by the initial article and the subsequent pieces repeating the allegation.”

IPSO did not make an adjudication on the matter, and the full resolution statement can be read here.

4 comments

You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • March 21, 2017 at 8:24 am
    Permalink

    Yesterday it was ‘NHS -takes sister papers to court over failure to ask for comment’ today its this

    I wonder how many more calamities and large claims it will take before regional publishers accept the folly of their ways in doing away professional editors, not the name only can carriers that have been appointed in recent months, and professional subs,any of whom would not have allowed these two basic school boy errors to happen.
    My guess is as long as it keeps the head counts down and as long as there is a steady line of inexperienced willing journos happy to have a title on the cheap nothing will change.
    When you sacrifice quality and experience with slap dash naivety and short term penny pinching expect serious claims to be the price you pay.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(35)
  • March 21, 2017 at 10:39 am
    Permalink

    There is a difference between deliberately lying and saying something with good intent that might prove to not true. It is a question of intent. Obviously this paper had a mind reader on the staff, probably a trainee one.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(10)
  • March 21, 2017 at 1:48 pm
    Permalink

    What a load of codswallop.

    When an elected representative tells you something as a fact then accidentally drops you an email coughing that what she’d just said to you was “not quiet true” then it’s tough luck.

    ESPECIALLY when the “not quite true” comment is central to the story.

    Typically the reporter gets a kicking while the councillor and her learned friends argue over semantics and end up with a grovelling apology.

    I’ve dealt with town hall politicians all my working life and they’re slippery as a barrel full of eels.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(6)
  • March 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm
    Permalink

    Fully agree blue stringer but the first point is well made,without the safety net of a time served editor or an eagle eyed sub this type of issue is likely to become more common as publishers dumb down departments and expect inexperienced staff to get it right first time every time

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(11)