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Complainant Name:
Sir Nicholas Bratza

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Sunday Telegraph


Sir Nicolas Bratza, a former President of the European Court of Human Rights, complained to the Press Complaints Commission that a column by Christopher Booker had inaccurately reported details of his involvement with a conference at the Council of Europe, in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice.


The complaint was resolved after the PCC negotiated the following correction and apology, published in Mr Booker's column:

"Sir Nicolas Bratza

My May 25 article on same-sex marriage referred to a speech made by Sir Nicolas Bratza, then President of the European Court of Human Rights, at a "secret" conference in the Council of Europe in 2012, chaired by the British Government. I said that "with the public excluded for the first time in the Council's history, it was here that - with the active support of Sir Nicolas Bratza... a deadline was set for [a] planned coup of June 2013" for the introduction of same-sex marriage. I stated that Sir Nicolas "pledged that his court would declare same-sex marriage to be a European-wide human right" if, by that date, "several countries" had managed to put gay marriage into law.

In fact, this event was not "secret", though it was for an invited audience only, with the press and public excluded - a common format for conferences in the Council of Europe. I also accept that, while supporting the general aims of the conference, Sir Nicolas did not give active support to the setting of a deadline for a coup to introduce same-sex marriage. In particular, I accept that he made no pledge purporting to commit the Court, which would have been improper. I am happy therefore to withdraw these statements, with my apologies."

Date Published: 26/09/2013

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