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Watchdog raps news site over failure to correct inaccuracy

The press watchdog has rapped a regional news website after it failed to rectify an inaccuracy that was brought to its attention.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld a complaint against Kent Live after it failed to give a “substantive response” to a pub landlord who contacted the title about an error.

Kent Live had reported the Henry VIII at Hever had “been forced to shut ‘until further notice’ because of a chronic shortage of hospitality staff.

But owner David Brant went to IPSO over the story, claiming the pub was no longer closed at the time of publication on 16 September last year.

Henry VIII

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Mr Brant said the pub, pictured, had been shut from Thursday 9 to Sunday 12 September and reopened on Wednesday 15 September, as it did not currently operate on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Mr Brant said Kent Live’s editor had initially acknowledged the complaint when contacted about the error, but the site had not contacted him further.

Denying a breach of Code, Kent Live said one of its reporters had seen a notice on the door of the pub following an attempt to visit the premises for lunch on Sunday 12 September, and had then phoned the pub on the 13th September and left a message introducing herself and asking to discuss the closure further.

Kent Live stated the journalist had called again on 14 September and had heard the answerphone message that had said the pub would be closed “until further notice”.

The site acknowledged that the pub had reopened at the time the article was published and on 13 October, following the complaint to IPSO, offered to remove the story if it would resolve the complaint.

While he wanted the story to be removed, Mr Brant said it would not resolve his complaint.

IPSO found the website had taken sufficient care not to publish inaccurate information prior to publication due to the steps taken by reporter.

However, the Committee noted that Mr Brant had contacted Kent Live directly on the day of publication alerting it to the inaccuracy but had not received a substantive response.

The story had not been updated or corrected and was significantly inaccurate as of the time it was published, and therefore required correction.

IPSO found Kent Live had not offered to correct or update it either in response to the initial contact from Mr Brant, or following the complaint to the watchdog, in breach of Clause 1.

The Committee considered that stating a pub was closed to business when it was in fact operational was a significant inaccuracy and that the appropriate remedy was the publication of a correction to put the correct position on record.

The complaint was upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.