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Complainant Name:
Ms P Clarkson

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Hull Daily Mail

Complaint:

Articles in the Hull Daily Mail and The Sun reported that a jury had acquitted Mr David Fullard, a local man from Brough, East Yorkshire, of unlawfully wounding a young man at his family home with a samurai sword. Mr Fullard alleged that the young man attacked, Mr Michael Severs, and his friend, Mr Michael Smith, had threatened his family. The jury found that - in slicing off Mr Severs' ear with a samurai sword - Mr Fullard had used reasonable force in self-defence. Mr Severs and Mr Smith both subsequently pleaded guilty to charges of affray.

The complainant, Ms P Lynn Clarkson, was the aunt of Mr Michael Smith, and pursued the complaint on his behalf. She complained to the Press Complaints Commission that - whilst Mr Smith and Mr Severs had pleaded guilty to affray - the newspapers had presented the facts giving rise to this charge in an inaccurate and misleading manner.

Her main concerns were that the articles had failed to recognise the contents of Mr Smith's basis of plea to the charge, which was accepted by the Prosecution. He had denied making threats against Mr Fullard's partner, and said that he was not drunk and did not possess any illegal drugs. His basis of plea also denied having possession of weapons, and the complainant highlighted that the Acting Chief Crown Prosecutor had written to the Hull Daily Mail to make clear that Mr Smith and Mr Severs were not burglars or intruders. Additionally, the complainant said that any threats made by Mr Smith and Mr Severs were a response to the attack on Mr Severs, and had occurred after Mr Fullard used the samurai sword.

Whilst the complainant accepted that the newspapers did have the right to report Mr Fullard's claims and the account that he had given at his trial, she objected to the presentation of these claims as matters of fact, when they were actually strongly disputed.

Resolution:

Contrary to the complainant's view, the newspapers maintained that their coverage had accurately reflected court proceedings. Nevertheless, both newspapers noted the complainant's points for future reference. The complaint against the Hull Daily Mail was resolved when the PCC helped to negotiate removal of online articles reporting the incident. The Sun amended its online article to reflect the points raised in the complaint.

Date Published: 19/11/2010



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