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Complainant Name:
Mr Michael Cole

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Daily Telegraph


Mr Michael Cole, Director of Public Affairs at Harrods, complained that an article published in The Daily Telegraph on 20 September 1997, headlined "City of rumour", contained statements about the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed which failed to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact in breach of Clause 3 (Comment, conjecture and fact) of the Code of Practice.

The article concerned the investigation of the fatal car crash and explored possible reasons for the rumour, half-truth and speculation which surrounded it. The complainant was particularly concerned about the references to the allegations that cocaine was found in the car and that the Princess was pregnant at the time of her death. He said there was no evidence for either allegation and that "pursuit of the truth was not a licence to defame the dead". He had written a letter to the newspaper but this was not published.

The newspaper said they believed it was clear from the article that there was no evidence for these allegations, that they were merely part of the "bewildering turmoil of fact and half-truth, invention and gossip" and that there seemed no reason to publish the complainant's letter.

Not Upheld


The Commission considered that the presentation of the allegations was such as to place them in the category of unsubstantiated rumour. While it regretted that the highlighting of such speculation had simply served to prolong what both the newspaper and the complainant agreed was unsubstantiated gossip, it found that the article did not breach Clause 3 of the Code.

The complaint was rejected.


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