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Complainant Name:
Edmund Robb and Edward de la Billiere

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Times


Edmund Robb and Edward de la Billiere complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had published inaccurate and misleading claims about their business interests in China, in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice. In addition, Mr Robb complained that the newspaper had published a photograph, allegedly of him, which in fact showed a different, unconnected individual.


On receipt of the complaint, the newspaper published the following correction to the photograph:

Photograph of Edmund Robb

A report about the death of Neil Heywood (Death in China: The Harrow connection, News, April 13) was illustrated with a photograph purporting to be Edmund Robb, who was a friend of Mr Heywood. In fact, it was not Edmund Robb, but an entirely unconnected person. We apologise to that person and to Mr Robb for any embarrassment or distress caused by this error.

During the course of the Commission's investigation into this complaint and two separate but related complaints, the newspaper published the following clarification:


An article on the death of Neil Heywood ("Death in China: the Harrow connection", April 13) considered links between several individuals who were friends or contemporaries of Neil Heywood at Harrow and who had gone on to develop business interests, separately or together, in China after leaving the school. We now accept that the connections between Neil Heywood and those named in the article - Edmund Robb, Charles Bonas, Edward de la Billiere and James Virgin - did not support our reference to a "gang" or "Group of Four", and we apologise for any offence these terms may have caused to those concerned. We have also been asked to clarify that the heading on a timeline of events leading to Neil Heywood's death ("From school to scandal") was not intended to suggest any impropriety on the part of the company set up by Mr Robb and Mr Bonas to place Chinese pupils at English public schools, or Prospect Law, a law firm in which Mr Robb and Mr de la Billière are partners. We are happy to make this clear.

The PCC subsequently negotiated the publication of the following apology:


Further to our article "Death in China: the Harrow connection" (April 13), and to our published clarification (May 17), we accept, as we said in the earlier clarification, that neither Mr Edmund Robb nor Mr Edward de la Billiere was involved in any "gang" or "group of four" Old Harrovians carrying on business in China. Further, both men have asked us to make clear that they had no relationship with the family of Bo Xilai which provided them with "a key source of influence in China" and that, therefore, neither man had to make any choice between that family's interests and his personal allegiance to Harrow. We accept this. As we additionally made clear in our earlier clarification, we also accept that Mr Robb, Mr de la Billiere and their law firm, Prospect Law, were not involved in any "scandal" surrounding Neil Heywood or his death in China. We are happy to reiterate this and apologise to both men.

The complaint was resolved on that basis.

Date Published: 29/08/2012

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