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Complainant Name:
Mr James Miller

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Hereford Journal

Complaint:

Mr James Miller complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article had inaccurately stated that Mr Bill Wiggin, the Member of Parliament for the Leominster constituency, had been "cleared of any wrongdoing" with regard to his expenses claims.

Resolution:

The newspaper explained that it had based its claim on Sir Thomas Legge's report on parliamentary expenses, which stated that Mr Wiggin had "no issues". The complainant pointed out that this did not necessarily mean that Mr Wiggin had been cleared of all wrongdoing, as the term "no issues" was also used when investigations independent of Sir Thomas' inquiry were underway. The complaint was resolved when the PCC helped to negotiate publication of the following letter from the complainant:

On April 14th, with a general election under way, the Hereford Journal published an article in which it was stated that our MP, Mr Bill Wiggin, was "cleared of any wrongdoing" over expenses.

I am in possession of three documents from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, which confirm that his investigation into Mr Wiggin's claims for council tax, telephone and utilities expenses was still ongoing at the time of your article.

The Commissioner is Parliament's most senior watchdog on expenses, and on the ethical behaviour of MPs. He again wrote to me on 9 April to confirm that the investigation into Mr Wiggin's expenses would continue when Parliament reconvenes after the election.

I cannot therefore accept that Mr Wiggin had been "cleared of any wrongdoing" when the article was published. This statement was undoubtedly of immense propaganda value to Mr Wiggin during the election campaign, and we will never know how many voters were influenced by your article before casting their votes.

From recent memory, I consider the Journal to be a truthful, campaigning newspaper. I hope that this remains the case, and that you will make the situation regarding Mr Wiggin's expenses clear to readers.

Yours faithfully,

Jim Miller

Bargates, Leominster

Date Published: 28/06/2010



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