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Magistrate’s delivery blamed for weekly’s inaccurate court story

NewIPSOA magistrate has been blamed for a weekly newspaper’s inaccuracy which prompted a complaint to the press watchdog.

The Isle of Man Examiner said a magistrate’s delivery of a judgment in an ambiguous way caused it to wrongly report a case involving Nigel Dobson.

The court’s clerk had written that a bid to restore Mr Dobson’s driving licence had been declined, and this was subsequently reported by both an Examiner journalist present and a radio station which was also covering the case.

But the inaccuracy prompted Mr Dobson to complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation over both the story and a subsequent correction which the Examiner had run on the matter.

The story covered Mr Dobson’s application to have his driving licence restored early after a drink driving conviction, and said that he had “failed in a bid to win back his driving licence early”.

It also said that after being suspended from driving for five years because of his conviction, he had been told “to reapply after four years of the ban [had] been completed”.

The correction repeated that Mr Dobson had sought to have his licence restored early after being banned from driving, but went on to report that “Magistrates actually declined to restore his licence immediately but ruled that it be restored from 29 September 2020”.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Mr Dobson said the story was inaccurate because his driving licence had actually been restored, adding the correction was inaccurate because it said that the magistrates had declined to restore his licence “immediately”.

He said he had not applied for it to be restored immediately, but his request had been granted and the magistrates had set a date for this.

The Examiner accepted its story was inaccurate, which it said was due to the magistrate delivering the judgment in an ambiguous way.

It added that this had led to the court’s clerk writing that restoring the licence had been declined, as well as the publication’s reporter and a radio station which also reported on the case.

After IPSO launched an investigation the Examiner offered to publish a further correction, which resolved the matter to Mr Dobson’s satisfaction.

IPSO therefore dropped its investigation, and the full resolution statement can be read here.