A regional daily which mistook the son of a car crash victim for his dead father has been rapped by the press watchdog over the error.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld a complaint against Newcastle-based daily The Chronicle over the mistake, which appeared in a story about a man who had been found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, and other driving offences, after crashing his car into a pub.
The article named Paul Collinson as the person who was killed in the crash, and included a photograph which was captioned: “Victim Paul Collinson.”
But its publication prompted a complaint to IPSO from Mr Collinson’s ex-wife Lorna Collinson, who said the photograph showed her son, who had the same name as his father but who had not been involved in the accident.
The Chronicle apologised for the error and ran a correction the following day, but IPSO found the error had represented a failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information and upheld Mrs Collinson’s complaint.
Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Mrs Collinson said the error had caused her and her family much distress.
An uncropped version of the photo, showing two men standing beside each other, had appeared in an online version of the story, but the image had been cropped for the newspaper.
Apologising and expressing its sincere condolences to Mrs Collinson, The Chronicle said the uncropped photograph had been originally published by Northumbria Police on social media, but accepted that the police’s caption to this photograph made clear that her ex-husband was the person on the left.
It said that it was unfortunate that the image had then been cropped to show the person on the right, who was her son, instead.
The printed apology had appeared the day after the error, and the wording had been agreed with Mrs Collinson’s son.
The Chronicle also noted Mrs Collinson had also declined the offer of a private letter of apology to her, which it had made on receipt of the complaint to IPSO.
IPSO found that where The Chronicle had published a photograph which had been cropped to show the person on the right, contrary to the police’s caption, this represented a failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information.
The Committee noted the correction had been sufficiently prominent and prompt, and also failed to find grounds for a separate breach of Clause 4.
The complaint was upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.