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Complainant Name:
Mr Andrew Gold

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Observer


Mr Andrew Gold, staff reporter for the Sunday Mail, complained that a report in The Observer on 17 August 1997, headlined "Asterisks fly as four-letter Connolly attacks reporter" , 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 onlookers had said that the complainant taunted Mr Connolly by swearing at him. The complainant provided a tape recording of his questions to show that he had not sworn when posing them.

The newspaper supplied witness accounts which stated, with reference to the complainant, that "other abusive questions were posed in an abusive manner and included swear words".

No Finding


The Commission noted that, while a representative from The Observer was not present at the scene of the incident, it was in possession of witness accounts which supported the published version of events. Clearly these were in conflict with the complainant's 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.


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