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Complainant Name:
A woman

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: South Wales Evening Post

Complaint:

A woman from Llanelli complained that an article published in the South Wales Evening Post on 8 April 2002 headlined “Axeman in siege drama at flats” was inaccurate and that the error had not been corrected promptly in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.

The complaint was upheld

The article reported that Llanelli residents had been told to stay inside after a man armed with a knife was confronted by police. The man was the estranged husband of the complainant and the article suggested that the incident started with a domestic row involving the two and the complainant’s new boyfriend. The complainant said that it was not her boyfriend - since she did not have one - but simply her neighbour. She was concerned that the inaccuracy put her and her children at risk of violence from her estranged husband. The complainant had been told by the newspaper that a correction would be published immediately but none was forthcoming. By the time the complaint was lodged with the Commission the complainant’s estranged husband had been found dead.

The newspaper said that a correction had been prepared as soon as the error was pointed out but that there had been a breakdown of communication and the piece was not published - for this it was sorry. A short follow-up piece, which corrected the error, was published on 22 May. The complainant was not satisfied with the correction, which did not, she said, remedy the damage caused by a front page story almost two months before.

Decision:
Upheld

Adjudication:

It was clear that an inaccuracy had been published by the newspaper in its original story and the issue for the Commission was, therefore, to consider whether the action taken to remedy the situation was satisfactory.

In deciding that it was not the Commission was mindful that Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code requires that ‘whenever it is recognised that a significant inaccuracy…has been published, it must be corrected promptly’. While it accepted that the time lapse between the original piece and the correction may have been inadvertent, the fact remained that over six weeks had passed before the error was put right and the Commission did not consider that this was acceptable in circumstances where the potential consequences of the mistake were serious. The Commission also noted that the correction, included in a short follow-up article, did not refer to the original article and did not include an apology, which would have been appropriate in this case.

Report:
59



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