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Court mum goes to IPSO over story despite news site keeping her identity secret

A mother sentenced over injuries inflicted on her three-week-old baby complained over a regional news website’s coverage of her case – even though she was not identified in the story.

The woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation after Gloucestershire Live covered a sentencing hearing at which she received a suspended sentence.

The baby’s father was jailed for three-and-a-half years after the infant was found to have a broken ankle, a fractured collarbone, and nine broken ribs.

The pair were not named in Gloucestershire Live’s report of the hearing at Gloucester Crown Court, pictured, but the mother went to IPSO to dispute the accuracy of the piece. The watchdog found in the Reach plc-owned site’s favour after an investigation.

Gloucester Crown Court

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, the woman disputed a number of points covered in Gloucestershire Live’s story.

She maintained that a claim that she had “scour[ed] [the] internet for excuses for brutal injuries to her three-week-old baby” had not been said in court, and denied her barrister had described her approach as “cowardly”, among other points.

Defending its coverage, Gloucestershire Live provided IPSO with the judge’s sentencing remarks and its reporter’s notes from court to back up the claims it had made.

However, when comparing the reporter’s transcript to the court transcript, the site did accept the reporter’s notes appeared to have transcribed “engineering explanations” as “engineering to find excuses”, although it did not consider this was a significant difference.

On this point, the site offered to publish a clarification stating: “A previous version of this article referred to the defendants as ‘scouring the internet for excuses’ to explain the injuries to the child.

“Although the judge made explicit reference to both defendants ‘engineering excuses’, one of the defendants has asked us to clarify that she searched the internet to check ‘what happens to child abusers’ and ‘how long do you get for child abuse’. We are happy to clarify this.”

IPSO found none of the disputed points represented a significant inaccuracy requiring correction.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.