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Daily Star justified in calling Rothley leaflet distributors 'sickos' - Press Complaints Commission decision

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Daily Star justified in calling Rothley leaflet distributors 'sickos' - Press Complaints Commission decision

Post by Pedro Silva on Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:41 pm

My friends, this was taken from PFA2:

Daily Star justified in calling Rothley leaflet distributors 'sickos' - Press Complaints Commission decision
Tony Bennett Today at 8:55 am

Late
yesterday I received by e-mail the text of the decision of the Press
Complaints Commission regarding complaints we made about coverage in
the 'Daily Star' of 15 August 2009 (the 'sickos' article) and 16 August
2009 (the 'stalker' article).

It must be remembered that despite
the hostile tone of these two press articles, and a similar article in
'The Sun', the Madeleine Foundation received hundreds of thousands of
extra hits on our website in the days following those news reports,
numerous compliments about the '30 Reasons' article on our website, and
a surge of orders for the now-banned '60 Reasons' booklet.

Here is the e-mail and the Press Complaints Commission judgment:

From: Scott Langham
Subject: 093429 / 093527 Sunday Express / Daily Star
To: "ANTHONY BENNETT"
Date: Tuesday, 22 December, 2009, 17:19

By email

Our references: 093429 / 093527

22 December 2009

Dear Mr Bennett

Further to our recent correspondence the Commission has now made its assessment of your complaint under the Code of Practice.

The
Commission members have asked me to thank you for giving them the
opportunity to consider the points you raise. However, their decision
was that there was no breach of the Code and a full explanation appears
below.

If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your
complaint has been handled - as opposed to the Commission ’s decision
itself - you should write within one month to the independent Charter
Commission er, whose details can be found in our How to Complain
leaflet or at http://www.pcc.org.uk/complaints/process.html

Thank you for taking this matter up with us.

Yours sincerely

Scott Langham
scott.langham@pcc.org.uk
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commission’s decision in the case of Bennett v Sunday Express/Daily Star

The
articles reported that the Madeleine Foundation had distributed copies
of their leaflet ‘What really happened to Madeleine McCann? Ten key
reasons which suggest that she was not abducted’ in the McCanns’ home
town of Rothley , Leicestershire.

The articles variously
referred to the leaflet as a “hate leaflet” and “highly inflammatory”,
claiming that it contained “despicable lies” and that it was part of a
“smear campaign”. The articles also claimed that the McCanns had been
targeted by “sickos” and that the Chairman of the Madeleine Foundation
was a “stalker”. The complainant said that all these claims were
inaccurate and misleading.

In this case, it was clear to the
Commission that the references to a “hate leaflet” and to the leaflet
being “highly inflammatory” represented the newspaper’s robust position
on the content of the literature being distributed by the complainant
and his organisation, which could reasonably be described as
controversial. The newspapers had the absolute right to do so, within
the parameters of the Code of Practice.

Clause 1 (Accuracy) of
the Code states that newspapers must distinguish clearly between
comment, conjecture and fact. The Commission considered that – given
the nature of the references, which were plainly subjective – readers
would have understood that they related to the newspapers’ own views of
the leaflet, which they were entitled to take. Equally, the Daily Star
had been perfectly entitled to offer its opinion of the individuals
behind the campaign (“sickos”) which, it was said, had caused distress
to the McCanns. It was difficult to see how such a subjective term
could have been interpreted as verifiable fact. The complainant may
have disagreed with such a description, but this did not make it
inaccurate in breach of the Code. Similarly, the Commission was
satisfied that the newspaper had been entitled, in the circumstances,
to refer to the leafleting as part of a “smear campaign”, or, by
extension, “stalking”. Both terms clearly represented the newspapers’
opinion of the activities of the organisation. The reference to
“despicable lies” had, in addition, been attributed clearly to a
“source close to the couple”, in the case of the Sunday Express, and a
“family pal” in the case of the Daily Star. There was no breach of the
Code on these points.

The complainant had also claimed that the
circumstances of the leaflet drop had been misrepresented. In the
Commission’s view, however, the question of when the leaflets were
distributed – at night-time or between 3pm and 6pm – and how many
people were involved was immaterial to any general understanding of the
matter. These references certainly did not amount to a significant
inaccuracy under the terms of Clause 1 (ii). Finally, the complainant
had said that it was not the case that the Madeleine Foundation had
sent the leaflet to Brian and Janet Kennedy. Given that he had stated
that he was unaware of their address, it was difficult to see how he
knew that this was the position. In any case, there had been no
complaint from Kennedys on the point.

Scott Langham
Head of Complaints
Press Complaints Commission

Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD
Tel: 020 7831 0022
Website: http://www.pcc.org.uk


Pedro Silva
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Re: Daily Star justified in calling Rothley leaflet distributors 'sickos' - Press Complaints Commission decision

Post by rosemary on Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:53 pm

Oooh YES! YES! YES! The sicko in question is now so demoralised that he urges his fellow sickos to believe that despite this torrent of negative publicity he has been receiving lately they did receive 100´s of thousands (!!!!????) of web site hits following the news reports! He is cracking up! Laffin

rosemary
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Re: Daily Star justified in calling Rothley leaflet distributors 'sickos' - Press Complaints Commission decision

Post by Pedro Silva on Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:30 pm

Rosemary my friend, I agree with you.

Pedro Silva
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