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Daily apologises to council worker named in story published by mistake

NewIPSOA regional daily apologised to a council worker who it named in a story mistakenly published online by a trainee journalist.

The Worcester News said sorry to Jason Parkes after he was accused in the piece of not answering the phone by a man who was having difficulties with Worcestershire County Council over accessing benefits for his disabled son.

The story’s publication prompted Mr Parkes to complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, and the News subsequently blamed the error on a trainee journalist mistakenly uploading her raw copy to its website before it had been edited.

Mr Parkes claimed the News had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in his complaint.

The story in question had quoted Alistair Lambert, whose son is disabled, as saying: “The direct payments team are very difficult to get in touch with. [Mr Parkes] who is in charge doesn’t even answer the phone.”

Mr Parkes told IPSO in his complaint that he was a junior worker at the council, who handled correspondence, and was not responsible for the man’s difficulties, adding the article’s reference to him gave the misleading impression that he was employed in a senior, decision-making role in this case.

He also said that he was not contacted for comment prior to publication, and claimed that including his name in the article and revealing him to be a council worker was a breach of privacy.

In response, the News said it had removed all reference to Mr Parkes when it became aware of his concerns, and said it was not its policy to name individual council employees.

However, the newspaper said that naming Mr Parkes as a council employee did not reveal anything private about him, as his job title appeared on his public social media profile.

It had apologised to Mr Parkes, who had subsequently declined an offer to publish a correction or clarification making his position clear.

However, during the course of IPSO’s investigation, he changed his mind and the News published a standalone correction on its website.

As this resolved the matter to the satisfaction of Mr Parkes, IPSO did not make an adjudication on whether there had been a breach of Code.

The full adjudication can be read here.