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Complainant Name:
Mrs Veronica Strongman

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Woman's Own

Complaint:

Mrs Veronica Strongman of Bournemouth complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article headlined ‘Blood, sweat and tears’ published in Woman’s Own on 8 October 2001 was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice.

The complaint was upheld.

The complainant is a volunteer for a fortnightly ‘parent panel’, at which a group of young mothers discuss their children’s needs with representatives from a baby food company. She had explained to a freelance journalist in an interview arranged by the company that the children are cared for in a crèche during the meetings, and that as part of their payment the mothers receive a ‘goody bag’ of products that are already on the market. She complained that the article had inaccurately reported what happens during the meetings, particularly by suggesting that her child was taste-testing new products.

The magazine felt that the article was positive, sympathetic, and maintained that the complainant had specifically told the journalist that mothers were given sample products to try with their children at home. However, it provided no corroborative notes to support this assertion and the complainant denied it. Some considerable time after the complaint was made the magazine offered to publish a letter from the complainant making clear that any inadvertent impression that her son tests new products was inaccurate. The complainant rejected this offer.

Decision:
Upheld

Adjudication:

The Code requires that any significant inaccuracy or misleading statement ought to be corrected promptly and with due prominence. In this case the Commission noted that the magazine could not substantiate its position that the complainant’s child taste-tested new products by providing, for example, notes or tapes of the interview. There was therefore a requirement for the magazine to correct the matter promptly, which it had failed to do. The offer to publish a letter from the complainant four months later was inadequate and the complaint was therefore upheld.

Report:
58



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