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Complainant Name:
Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC

Clauses Noted: 1, 2

Publication: The Daily Telegraph


Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC, Chairman of Victim Support, London, SW9 complained that an article in The Daily Telegraph of 26 September 1996, headlined "Women must be forced to return to Room 101", contained significant inaccuracies, misleading statements and distortions in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice. In considering the complaint the Commission also had regard to Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Code of Practice.

A named writer had put forward her views on the work of Victim Support organisations, focusing on its witness service. The complainant alleged that a number of statements in the article misrepresented or distorted the position of the group. There were also significant inaccuracies including the writer's statements that the group had been started up by a grant from an anonymous American donor and that it was funded entirely by the Home Office. In correspondence with the editor the complainant had asked for space for an article in reply by Victim Support. While not ruling this out the editor offered publication of a letter responding to the points made, an offer which the complainant did not regard as satisfactory.

The newspaper did not accept that any significant inaccuracy or misleading or distorted statement had been published. With regard to most of the points raised by the complainant it said these related to opinions or matters of interpretation by the author permitting rebuttal in a letter. It also disputed the factual complaints. For example, it said that although Victim Support as such had not been started by a grant from an anonymous donor, the Victim Support Crown Court witness services had been and the whole article was clearly about witnesses. It understood that in the last financial year 85% or more of Victim Supports funding had come from the Home Office.

Not Upheld


The Commission noted that the article was clearly presented as a comment piece. It considered that most of the complaints made concerned matters which were clearly presented as the named writer's personal opinions, which she was entitled to make, as they related to the interpretation and critique of Victim Support's work. The terms of the comparison between the system in the United States and the UK were clear. With regard to the factual complaints the Commission did not find any errors significant within the context of the article taken as a whole.

Any complaint about the article could have been dealt with through the newspaper's offer to publish a letter from the complainant. There was no obligation on the newspaper to give space to a reply article.

The complaint under Clause 1 was rejected.


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