Clauses Noted: 1, 2
Publication: Countryweek Hunting
Mrs Doreen Cronin, Secretary, Devon and Somerset Residents Association for Deer Protection, complained that an article headlined "Encore! Show us the same old picture" , in the December 1996 edition of Countryweek Hunting contained inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy), that no opportunity to reply had been given in breach of Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) and that the piece failed to distinguish clearly between conjecture and fact in breach of Clause 3 (Comment, conjecture and fact) of the Code of Practice.
The writer of the piece claimed the photograph of the deer on the roof had been used often in the past 30 years to stir up feelings against hunters. He questioned, however, whether the photograph was genuine and reported his unsuccessful attempts to discover who had taken it and under what circumstances. The piece was illustrated by the photograph.
The complainant provided the Commission with a letter from the man who had taken the photograph, confirming that he had taken it on 10 October 1987 during a hunt and that he still had the negatives, although he had surrendered the copyright to an animal rights organisation. The complainant said the public outcry following the incident depicted in the photograph had prompted an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons in 1988.
The editor said the magazine had paid a reproduction fee for the photograph to an organisation other than that mentioned by the photographer. Before deciding to use the picture, diligent inquiries had been made in order to establish the copyright holder and to learn the circumstances in which the photograph was taken. She offered, however, to publish a summary of the precautions they had taken before publication, as a means of resolving the complaint and the complainant accepted the offer on the condition that any published clarification also included the details of the provenance of the photograph and an apology.
In the event, the clarification and apology promised for the September 1997 issue did not appear. In fact, the Commission was unaware this was to be the final issue of Countryweek Hunting, until the editor, now editing a new publication Countryweek Illustrated, so informed the Commission after the September edition appeared.
The Commission regretted that in spite of a number of requests to the Publishing Company, St Martins Magazines, for comments, it received no reply. In all the circumstances the Commission found the matter had not been resolved under the Code and therefore upheld the complaint.
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