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Weekly says sorry to widow over ‘accurate’ inquest report

NewIPSOA weekly newspaper has apologised to a widow over its coverage of her husband’s inquest, despite maintaining that its reporting was accurate.

The Brentwood Gazette apologised to Beverley Smith for the article, which it also removed from its website, after she complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Despite its apology, the Gazette told IPSO that it believed the article accurately reflected what had been heard at the inquest following an examination of the attending reporter’s notes.

Mrs Smith, who did not herself attend the inquest, claimed the Gazette had inaccurately reporter the series of events that had occurred prior to her husband’s death.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, she said the story did not reflect what had been heard at the inquest, and provided a statement from the coroner who confirmed her findings.

In response, the Gazette expressed its sympathies for Mrs Smith’s loss and apologised for any distress caused.

The newspaper said that its reporters always attempt to speak to family members at inquests to make them aware that the newspaper will cover the story and ask if the family wish to pay a personal tribute.

As Mrs Smith had not attended the inquest, it was unable to do so on that occasion, but offered to publish a tribute piece if she wished.

During IPSO’s investigation into the matter, the Gazette offered to remove the online article and to write a private letter of apology to the complainant, resolving the issue to her satisfaction.

No adjudication was made on breach of Code, and the full resolution statement can be read here.

3 comments

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  • June 19, 2018 at 9:36 am
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    Whatever the rights and wrongs here, this comes from the same office that reported on a homeless man’s city-centre death in freezing weather by getting his surname wrong throughout the entirety of its first report, then rendering it correctly in text a week later but getting it wrong again (with yet another alternative spelling) in a pic cap. Apologies in this case came there none, but then again the victim was homeless and disempowered, so no sweat for the Reach beavers.

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  • June 19, 2018 at 9:41 am
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    I am puzzled. I feel sorry for the widow but she did not attend the inquest so how can she say the story was inaccurate. Let’s hope the story was accurate but it seems to me that papers are only too willing to offer an apology whether they are right or wrong. Call me cynical but it appears to my long tooth ( I started in journalism in 1965) that the widow is really objecting to the fact that a story was published at all. I remember walking back from an inquest many moons ago with a relative shouting behind me. It was only when he got to the newsroom offices that the 55-year-old chief reporter came out and told him in no uncertain tones to clear off and pointed out that the inquest had been heard in public. uncertain

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  • June 19, 2018 at 12:04 pm
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    Was this report inaccurate? Coroner backs complainant. No explanation given of what alleged error(s). Don’t apologise but just offer sympathy if the report was accurate.

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