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Complainant Name:
Mr Jimmi Harkishin

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Sunday Sport

Complaint:

Mr Jimmi Harkishin complained through Granada Television that an article headlined "Corrie Jimmi is a Dev-il in bed!" published in the Sunday Sport on the 31 March 2002 was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice.

The complaint was upheld.

The article described a night that the complainant - an actor in Coronation Street - had allegedly spent with a woman called Marie Howsin. Miss Howsin alleged that the pair had had sex after meeting in a nightclub, and went into some detail about her version of events. The complainant said that he had met Miss Howsin once - in the nightclub - but that he had rejected her suggestion that they leave together. He complained that neither he nor the Coronation Street press office was approached in advance of publication to verify the allegations.

The newspaper said that it was convinced that Miss Howsin had provided an accurate account and that a telephone coversation taped by the newspaper proved that the two knew each other. She proved she knew where the complainant lived by taking a researcher to his house and also by identifying his car.

The complainant said that the telephone conversation had been set up by another newspaper which had then dropped plans to publish a story because the tape did not support Miss Howsin’s story. He said that he did not have a car at the time of the alleged encounter and that other general details about his lifestyle could have been found out during her conversations with his friends during the night out. He suggested that it was unsurprising that she knew where he lived given that she had had the co-operation of two national newspapers, over a period of 8 months, to find out.

Decision:
Upheld

Adjudication:

In such disputes of fact, it is not the Commission’s job - nor is it within the Commission’s power - to find out whether allegations are true or not. Its task is to consider whether editors have taken care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted material as required by the Code. Given that people who are in the position of the complainant may meet many members of the public - and may be susceptible to any number of allegations about them - the Commission considers that when dealing with such stories editors must be able to demonstrate that they have not merely relied on one account where there may be some doubt as to the veracity of the story. As there was no particular evidence to corroborate Miss Howsin’s version of events it would have been sensible for the newspaper to have approached the complainant for his comments before deciding whether publication would be in accordance with the Code. Failure to do so meant that sufficient care had not been taken not to publish inaccurate material.

Report:
58



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