Press Complaints Commission
spacer spacer
SEARCH FOR     Or try the cases search  
Cases Banner
Making a complaint
Code of Practice Information
Code Advice

Complainant Name:
Mr Andrew Gold

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Herald (Glasgow)


Mr Andrew Gold, staff reporter for the Sunday Mail, complained that a report in The Herald on 18 August 1997, headlined "Anger at Connolly ambush" , contained an inaccurate account of his interview with the actor and comedian Billy Connolly, in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice.

The complainant had approached Mr Connolly after his appearance at a press conference to promote a new film. He explained he had attempted to ask the actor why he had bragged during a recent show about punching a Sunday Mail photographer. He said Mr Connolly had tried to punch him but had been held back, and indicated that Mr Connolly had responded aggressively and sworn at him. The article, however, stated that witnesses had said that the complainant had either deliberately or accidentally bumped into Mr Connolly and then attacked him with a series of provocative and robustly worded questions about why the actor might hate the Scottish press and the Sunday Mail in particular. It also reported that the witnesses said the complainant then dialled a number on his mobile telephone and said " We got it. We did it. It's terrific. We got the shots". The article added that contrary to the Sunday Mail's account, Dame Judi Dench had not been near the incident. The complainant provided a tape recording of his questions to show that he had not sworn when posing them and a photograph of him interviewing Mr Connolly with Dame Judi Dench visible in the foreground, but turned away from the conversation.

The newspaper responded that they had received "incontrovertible evidence" from four witnesses that the Sunday Mail's account was inaccurate and believed that this was stronger evidence than the brief tape and the photograph. It did not believe that the complainant could be identified from the article in any case.

No Finding


The Commission noted that, while a representative from The Herald was not present at the scene of the incident, it had been in possession of witness accounts which supported the published version of events. Clearly these were in conflict with the complainants account and the short tape recording which he had supplied. While it appeared that the article had been published in good faith by the newspaper, based on the statements of several onlookers, there was widely conflicting evidence. In the circumstances the Commission could not make a finding under the Code.


<< Go Back
Home ] Cases ] Site map ]