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Complainant Name:
Messrs Avery, Clifford & Co.

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Reading Post


Messrs Avery, Clifford & Co, solicitors, of Reading, Berks, complained that the Reading Evening Post had not fairly and accurately reported the outcome of an action for defamation which the firm had brought against it, in breach of Clause 1(v) (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice. The solicitors complained, in particular, that the report indicated unfairly that a payment by the defendant had been made without admission of liability; that references to the solicitors bearing the bulk of the costs were either almost certainly untrue, or might not be true; and that there was an irrelevant reference to the conduct of a legal executive in the report.

The newspaper contended that its report was fair and accurate and that it was entitled to give its readers a fuller account of the outcome of the case than that contained in the statement approved by the judge. The newspaper had objected to some of the terms of the proposed statement but had not opposed the application to have it read. It disputed all of the points made by the complainants.



The Commission considered that the report of the outcome of the defamation action had not been "fair and accurate" within the terms of the Code as it had presented an unbalanced view of that outcome. While it was acceptable that the piece made clear that a payment into court had been made without admission of liability, the reference to the conduct of a legal executive had been irrelevant. Further, the piece did not state that the newspaper had given an undertaking not to repeat the headline. It was also wrong of the newspaper, in reporting the outcome of the proceedings, to include its own unagreed estimate of the costs, which was clearly a comment at that stage, and not a fact.

The complaint was upheld under Clause 1 (v).


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