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Bomb hoaxer goes to IPSO over weekly’s reference to previous racial conviction

A bomb hoaxer complained to the press watchdog because a weekly newspaper referred to a previous conviction he had received for racially or religiously aggravated harassment.

David Marks complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation over a Croydon Advertiser story which reported his car had allegedly been left in a parking space outside Croydon Crown Court, pictured below, for several months.

The Advertiser reported this was because Marks had received a custodial sentence for “racially or religiously aggravated harassment”, but he told IPSO he had been convicted of breaching a restraining order and a bomb hoax.

The Advertiser had received the information about the nature of the conviction from the court, and IPSO ruled it had been entitled to rely on this source – rejecting Marks’s complaint in the process.

Croydon Crown Court

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Marks claimed that the publication of the article was a form of harassment and alleged that the Advertiser was complicit in continued harassment which he had been experiencing from members of the public.

Denying a breach of Code, the Advertiser said that prior to publication its journalist had contacted the court and had been told that the complainant had been convicted of racially or religiously aggravated harassment.

The journalist had since left the organisation and given the passage of time was unable to provide a contemporaneous note, but acknowledged the error upon receipt of documentation provided by Marks.

It did not accept that it represented a significant inaccuracy given that Marks had previously been convicted of the offence reported in the article, but offered to publish a clarification on this point.

IPSO found it was not in dispute that Marks had previously been convicted of the offence reported in the story and that the reference to his earlier conviction, albeit inaccurate in this context, did not, as a whole, give a misleading impression of the offences to which he had been found guilty.

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

Following the adjudication Marks complained to the Independent Complaints Reviewer about the process followed by IPSO in handling this complaint, but his request for a review was not upheld.

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