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Complainant Name:
Ms Caroline Meek

Clauses Noted: 1, 12

Publication: The Forester

Complaint:

Ms Caroline Meek of Bristol complained that two court reports and a subsequent article had contained inaccuracies. The complainant was most concerned about the latter article, which included the inaccurate claim that she had stabbed a woman in the head, neck, back and stomach. In fact, the only stab wound, which had needed no stitches, was to the stomach. The complainant also said that two court reports, published prior to this article, included details of the prosecution’s claims without qualification, and were therefore biased. In addition, she raised concern over the newspaper’s description of her throughout the coverage as a lesbian .

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a correction and an accompanying follow up article. The correction was worded as follows:

‘In an article about the prosecution of Caroline Meek following an incident in which another woman was stabbed, titled ‘Mum speaks out after court case’ and published on August 30 2007, we said Ms Meek stabbed the woman in the head, neck back and stomach.

Our report gave the inaccurate impression that this had been accepted as established fact.

In fact, the only stab wound – which needed no stitches – was to the stomach, and the jury acquitted Ms Meek of unlawful wounding and common assault on the basis of self-defence.

Ms Meek also refutes the portrayal of her as a lesbian in our coverage of her trial.

We are happy to make the position clear and apologise for the inaccuracy.’

The accompanying article set out the complainant’s position in greater detail. It made clear that she was concerned that the press coverage of her trial had been biased in favour of the prosecution.

Specifically, the article emphasised the complainant’s position that the claim that she had been involved in a relationship with Sharon Merrett was something alleged by the prosecution; the complainant had been best friends with Ms Merrett, with whom she had shared a house. Further, the complainant emphasised that the row which had led to the incident was an accusation that she was a drug addict, rather than a lesbian row. Moreover, the complainant made clear that she was helped out of the pub, rather than being kicked out, as the prosecution had claimed.

In addition, the accompanying article referred to the incident itself, making the point that the complainant carried a small lock knife due to a previous incident when she had been mugged in Bristol.

The article also referred to the complainant’s car crash, which had occurred after the incident. She had been disqualified as a result of being over the drink drive limit. The complainant made clear that she intended to stay at her father’s that night, and was not planning to drive the car. The complainant also emphasised that she had gone to the pub to look for friends, rather than to cause trouble.

Finally, the article emphasised the depression that the complainant had suffered as a result of the case. The complainant said that she faced going to prison, and was given five court dates which were subsequently cancelled.

Report: 77



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