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Complainant Name:
Barry Sheerman MP

Clauses Noted: 1, 3

Publication: The Sunday Telegraph

Complaint:

Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, complained that an article misleadingly suggested that he had acted improperly by taking a holiday in Thailand with his wife following the conclusion of a conference he had attended in Bangkok as part of his official business. The piece noted that Mr Sheerman’s return airfare to the country had been paid for by the British Council, the organisers of the conference, and quoted someone from the Taxpayers’ Alliance who was critical of what they saw as ‘piggy-backing’ a holiday onto the end of official business. Mr Sheerman also complained that a photograph accompanying the piece, which showed him and his wife sitting by a swimming pool in their hotel, invaded the couple’s privacy.

Resolution:

The newspaper strongly disputed that the article was substantively misleading. It argued that the fundamental facts of the matter were not in dispute and that readers would be able to draw their own conclusions as to whether Mr Sheerman had acted improperly. A number of minor inaccuracies were corrected online.

As to the photograph, the newspaper agreed to publish an apology to the couple and the complaint was resolved on that basis. The apology read:

In an article published on 10th February 2008 headlined ‘Taking a Break: MP Flown to Thailand by the Taxpayer’, The Sunday Telegraph printed a photograph of Barry Sheerman MP, showing him and his wife sitting by a hotel swimming pool while on holiday in Thailand. We would like to apologise for the distress publication of this photograph has caused Mr and Mrs Sheerman.

Report: 77



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