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Complainant Name:
Mr Peter Norris

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Evening Standard


Mr Peter Norris of Meppershall, Bedfordshire, and former Head of Investment Banking at Barings, the UK Merchant Bank, complained that an article headlined "My nightmare year, by ex-Barings chief" which appeared in the Evening Standard on 15 May 1996 contained inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice.

He said that the opening paragraph of the article which attributed a quote purportedly made by the complainant that he should not have been offered the job in the first place, was inaccurate in that it had been taken out of context. Further, the complainant stated that the article wrongly implied that he and his colleague knew about and condoned unauthorised trading activities.

The newspaper responded that there was no suggestion of the conversation being "off the record" save in respect of one small item, which was not included. The newspaper produced the reporter's notes, prepared immediately after the interview and further relied on similar statements made by the complainant in earlier interviews with the BBC and another newspaper.

Not Upheld


The Commission noted that there was a factual dispute between the parties as to whether or not the interview took place on or off the record. The Commission considered that while it was unfortunate that notes were not made during the actual course of the meeting, the complainant had given interviews "on the record" previously in which he discussed the subject matter of the article. After considering all the circumstances, the Commission decided to make no finding on this part of the complaint.

As to the complaints of inaccuracy, the Commission did not consider that readers would misunderstand the context in which the statement in the opening paragraph was made. However, the suggestion that the complainant and others knew what was going on, was not supported by the reporter's notes, nor was it a conclusion which could have been drawn from comments made by the complainant during the interview. In the circumstances the Commission regretted that fuller notes were not kept. Save to this limited extent, the complaint was rejected.


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