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Sister dailies entitled to rely on police press release, watchdog rules

Rachel TaylorTwo sister dailies were entitled to rely on a police press release about a prison worker being jailed for drug smuggling, the press watchdog has ruled.

The Derby Telegraph and Nottingham Post have been absolved by the Independent Press Standards Organisation over their stories about Rachel Taylor, left, who had been convicted of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs and conspiracy to convey Class B drugs into prison.

After the two Reach plc-owned dailies published the stories online, Taylor complained to IPSO about the coverage – claiming both pieces contained a number of inaccuracies.

Both the Telegraph and Post contacted Nottinghamshire Police, which had sent the press release on which the stories were based,  but the force continued to maintain its accuracy.

Both newspapers had reported that, three months after the start of her employment as an admin assistant at HMP Lowdham Grange, colleagues became suspicious that Taylor was having “inappropriate relationships” with two named prisoners, who were co-defendants in the case, and that 16 wraps of cannabis were found in a subsequent search of her home.

They both included a lengthy quote on the case from a Detective Inspector, who said that she had spent the money on “an extravagant lifestyle of designer clothes and accessories”.

Complaining that both titles had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Taylor denied that the police had found 16 wraps of cannabis in her house, which was significant because this greatly inflated the potential value of the drugs.

She also said it was inaccurate to report that concerns were raised three months after she began working at the prison about possible relationships between her and two prisoners because one of the men in question was not there at the time, and further denied she had lived an “extravagant lifestyle” or had spent money on designer clothes or accessories.

Taylor also claimed the publication of her partial home address had put her at risk because her co-defendants had links to gangs.

Both the Telegraph and the Post denied the articles were inaccurate or that there was any breach of the Code.

The stories were based entirely on the press release, which the police had maintained was an accurate account of the case.

IPSO found the newspapers were entitled to rely on the police press release and considered that the force was “best placed to know the correct position.”

It also found no significant inaccuracies or breach of privacy.

The complaints were not upheld, and the full adjudications can be read here and here.