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Daily says sorry and offers charity donation over suicide note error

NewIPSOA regional daily has apologised after wrongly implying a man whose inquest it covered had left a suicide note.

Essex daily The Echo said sorry to the family of Tom Wallace and offered to make a charity donation to compensate for the error after his father complained to the press watchdog about a story it ran.

The Echo had reported a coroner’s officer as saying Mr Wallace had been declared deceased at his home and that “a note had been left”.

It also included the comments of the senior coroner, who said: “I will need a copy of the post-mortem examination, and I will also expect a copy of the note that was discovered.”

But publication of the story prompted Russell Wallace to complain to IPSO under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into Grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Mr Wallace said The Echo had twice referred to a note being left, which after consulting the coroner’s office was confirmed not to be the case.

He added the police statement did not say that any note had been found and therefore the story had inaccurately reported that his son had left a suicide note, further stating it had caused considerable grief and upset for the family.

The Echo said its reporter believed the note was mentioned at the inquest but accepted this was not the case and offered to publish a clarification – although Mr Wallace said this was not a sufficient issue to resolve the matter.

Upon further review, The Echo accepted the story contained a significant inaccuracy and apologised for the distress caused by its publication.

It agreed to publish an apology and offered to make a £100 donation to Trust Links, the charity Tom Wallace worked for as a support worker.

The Echo also said that it would collaborate with the charity and Russell Wallace to publish three features on the charity and the work it does for vulnerable people in the local community.

The newspaper further sent a letter to the coroner outlining the internal measures it would take to ensure that inquests were handled sensitively and accurately in the future, including training and advice for staff members.

Russell Wallace said the measures were sufficient to resolve the matter, and therefore IPSO discontinued its investigation.

The full resolution statement can be read here.

2 comments

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  • February 20, 2020 at 12:38 pm
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    Basic reporting skills and checking the facts instead of making stuff up on the hint of a note would have meant the paper didn’t wrongly imply suicide.

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  • February 24, 2020 at 4:30 pm
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    Bit baffled by this report. There were two references by officials to a note being found so where did the paper go wrong by saying that?

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