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Complainant Name:
Jennifer Stevenson

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Daily Mail


Jennifer Stevenson complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper's coverage of a fatal horse riding accident was inaccurate. The complainant was among the first people at the scene and, contrary to what had been reported, there was no indication that the rider's injuries were the result of becoming impaled on a fence post. The complainant was particularly concerned as her teenage daughter had also witnessed the aftermath of the incident and, in her view, the piece was both sensationalist and upsetting for her and members of the deceased's family (who had given their consent for the complainant to pursue the matter on their behalf).


The newspaper accepted that there were inaccuracies in the copy which was obtained from a news agency in good faith. It said it regretted the distressed caused to the victim's family by the coverage and agreed to make the relevant changes to the online article. The complainant felt strongly that newspaper should have taken greater care when relying on agency copy and could have acted quicker to address the concerns raised. She asked that a correction appear at the start of the online article and rejected the newspaper's explanation that its house style would not allow for this. In the event, the complaint was resolved when the newspaper took the following remedial action: it republished the corrected article with the complainant's comments included in the readers' comments section; it provided private letters of apology for the complainant and members of the deceased's family; it removed the phrase "freak accident" from the headline and URL; and it appended a correction and apology to the online piece. The statement appeared in these terms:

‘An earlier version of this story stated that Josephine Davies had been ‘impaled' on a fence post. We now know this to be untrue and apologise for any distress the publication of this earlier report may have caused.'

Date Published: 20/09/2011

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