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Complainant Name:
Mr Patrick Evershed

Clauses Noted: 1, 2

Publication: Evening Standard


Mr Patrick Evershed, Chairman of the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association, complained that a Londoners' Diary piece in the Evening Standard of 24 April 1997, "Firm line for call-girl from Tory grandee" , inaccurately quoted an unnamed source at the Association and that an adequate opportunity to reply had not been given, in breach of Clauses 1 (Accuracy) and 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Code of Practice.

The brief diary article related to an incident when a prostitute tried to approach the Rt Hon Peter Brooke, who was parking his car when out canvassing. It seemed she did not know who he was, and Mr Brooke rebuffed her firmly. An unnamed aide at the campaign headquarters was quoted as saying "It's all the fault of the Boundary Commissioners. We used to be almost all SW1. Now poor Peter has to visit all these vulgar areas like Bayswater and Lancaster Gate. Imagine." Mr Evershed said the staff all firmly denied having made the remarks.

The newspaper said they had a confidential source for the story and offered the complainant an opportunity of writing a letter dissociating himself and the constituency from the sentiments expressed in the quote. The newspaper subsequently published a letter from Mr Brooke denying that prostitution was confined merely to the new wards in which he had been accosted and recognising the scale of the problem

The complainant said what was published did not deal with the authenticity of the quote which was at the heart of the complaint and Mr Brooke said that the letter he submitted had been edited to omit where an alleged aide in my headquarters so far unidentified by you in referring to the contested quote. The newspaper said it had requested this amendment because the matter was the subject of a PCC investigation.

Not Upheld


The newspaper was entitled to stand by the confidentiality of its source but the Commission was therefore not able to test its authenticity. The Commission regretted therefore that the newspaper had chosen to omit from Mr Brookes published letter a statement which was not itself disputed, the inclusion of which may well have helped resolve the complaint more amicably.

While, in the circumstances, it did not find that what was published provided an adequate remedy under the Code, it did not censure the newspaper because of the swift action it had taken to publish a letter before polling day.


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