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Complainant Name:
Ms Anne Peck

Clauses Noted: 12

Publication: Time Out


Ms Anne Peck, of the Association of Greater London Older Women, complained that an article in the August 6-13 1997 issue of Time Out, headlined "Andrew Mosby....gets on the bus" contained language which was prejudicial and pejorative in breach of Clause 15 (Discrimination) of the Code of Practice.

The article - by Andrew Mosby, one of the magazine's regular columnists - was a description of the writer's attendance at a meeting held for those aggrieved with the standard of bus service in London. In it he described the man who invented the request bus stop as "a gibbering nutter" and said that there was a "huge number of nutters on London buses". He went on: "Give a schizophrenic a six-zone travelcard and an injection and just leave them at a bus stop. We've now got commuters as train guards; maybe mad people are the new inspectors.".

The complainant objected to the above descriptions, believing them to be prejudicial to the mentally ill and also complained about the writer's references to "a dozen varieties of sweating ethnic minority"and "the elderly, most of whom have Alzheimer's.".

The editor responded that columnists such as Andrew Mosby "have a tradition of going 'over the top'". He did not believe that the reference to the elderly and Alzheimer's would be taken literally and said that the reference to schizophrenics was an attack on bus inspectors. The following week he had published three letters condemning the article.



The Commission understood that the columnist's remarks were apparently intended as humorous if robust personal comment on the subject of buses. Although some might have judged them in dubious taste, they would be recognised by regular readers as Mr Mosby's own particular style.

However, the Commission believed that on this occasion, the columnist's humorous remarks had misfired. They were clearly distressing to the elderly and to those with mental health problems. As such, this was clearly not in the spirit of clause 15 of the Code, or of the Commission's own guidance on the portrayal in the press of person's with mental illness.

The complaint was upheld.


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