A man’s complaint over a claim in a weekly newspaper that he had “bombarded” a councillor with emails has been rejected by the press watchdog.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation has thrown out a complaint by Robert Walker against the Sandbach Chronicle after it reported he had withdrawn his application to chair a local community group.
Mr Walker told the Chronicle his withdrawal was because he had received an “odd” e-mail from a named councillor that referred to him in a “derogatory manner”.
The paper then reported the named councillor’s response to these claims which he described as “nonsense”, adding that he had since been “bombarded” with emails and phone calls from Mr Walker to such an extent that he had reported the complainant to the police.
Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Mr Walker accepted he had contacted the councillor via e-mail but denied contacting him via telephone.
Mr Walker said that the use of the term “bombarded” mischaracterised and misrepresented both the extent of their contact and his own conduct.
He also disputed that he had been reported to the police, as he had received no contact from the police about the alleged complaint.
The Chronicle maintained it had accurately reported the comments of the councillor and said that it was entitled to report these allegations, which it had not presented as fact.
The paper said the story made clear that the views expressed were those of the named councillor, with the disputed term “bombarded” clearly his own characterisation of the contact between himself and Mr Walker.
The Chronicle said it had been assured by the councillor, prior to publication, that he had referred the matter to the police, adding that it had no reason to doubt the veracity of his account.
During IPSO’s investigation, the Chronicle received a statement from the local police force confirming that the councillor had made an allegation of harassment against an individual a number of weeks prior to publication.
IPSO found the Chronicle had taken sufficient care in reporting the claims made.
The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.