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Complainant Name:
Mr Garbhan Downey

Clauses Noted: 1, 2

Publication: The Guardian


Mr Garbhan Downey, Director of Communications & Marketing for the Derry-Londonderry Culture Company, complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had breached Clauses 1 (Accuracy) and 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Editors' Code of Practice.

The complainant acknowledged that, since 2008, forty men had been shot in ‘paramilitary style attacks' in the Derry-Londonderry area; however, the newspaper had initially reported that eighty-five men were shot in a year, and its correction inaccurately claimed that eight-five men were shot over a three year period


The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated an undertaking on the part of the newspaper to tag its records with the complainant's concerns, the amendment of the online article, and the publication of the following correction, both in print and online:

A correction published on 14 May 2012 regarding an article on vigilante violence in Derry said there had been 85 shootings in the city over the past three years, not over the past year as the article originally stated. Since our article and the correction were published, information released to the BBC by the Northern Ireland ambulance service and Derry's Altnagelvin Hospital gave a lower figure of 40 men shot in paramilitary-style attacks in the Derry area since 2008. A further five people were shot in nearby Strabane and another three over the border in Donegal - this includes the killing in February 2012 of Derry man Andrew Allen. The PSNI said there had been 16 casualties as a result of paramilitary-style attacks (11 shootings and five assaults) in the region including Derry and Strabane in the 12 months to 31 March 2012. This statistic does not include RAAD's pipe bomb attacks or the Donegal murder. The original article also quoted Derry-based John Lindsay, author of a new book on the violence, saying ‘on average there are about four young men being forced out of the city by RAAD and other vigilante groups per week; about 200 in the past year'. Mr Lindsay has told us the estimate of 200 should have been for the three-year period. However, large numbers of expulsions have been reported over short time frames; on 30 April 2012, the Irish Times reported a community worker from the Peace and Reconciliation Group saying that in the previous week alone five young men had been forced to leave Derry. (Fear and republican vigilantes stalk new city of culture, 14 May)

The newspaper also published a column by its Readers' Editor addressing the issues raised by the complaint.

Date Published: 10/08/2012

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