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Complainant Name:
A woman

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Bedfordshire on Sunday


A woman complained that a report of a court case involving her 14 year old daughter, in particular the headline "Girl lied about cabbie" , which appeared in Bedfordshire on Sunday on 9 March 1997, was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice.

The piece reported the outcome of a court case in which a taxi driver had been cleared of a charge of indecent assault against the complainant's daughter. It stated that, during the trial, the complainant's daughter had admitted she sometimes made things up.

The complainant said her daughter had been asked in court " Do you ever exaggerate to your friends?" and had answered that she did. However, she said her daughter had answered truthfully all the questions she had been asked in court.

The newspaper said the piece was a fair and accurate contemporaneous report of the court case. The complainant's daughter had admitted in court that she exaggerated and this had been crucial to the outcome of the case. It said that as the court had decided that the taxi driver was not guilty, the complainant's daughter must therefore have lied. The complainant's daughter had not, in any case, been named in the report.



It is not for the Commission to make a judgement as to the credibility of witnesses and their evidence in Court. Furthermore, the jury's deliberations in reaching a verdict are of course confidential. However, the matter for the Commission to decide was whether there was sufficient evidence available to the newspaper to justify such an account - and in particular the headline.

Having examined the transcript of the summing up in the case, the Commission considered that the newspaper had no evidence on which to base a specific claim that the girl had lied . The Commission generally holds that headlines are to be read in the context of the article. In this instance, however, while the text of the article appeared to report fairly on the hearing, the serious and prominent allegation in the headline was not justified.


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