This one is written by Richard Wilson and it explains his seven-month battle to get the Daily Mail to correct an article - 'The Great Asbestos Hysteria' - by Christopher Booker.
The Mail eventually published this clarification but the wording suggests they substantially stand by the original piece.
But Wilson's reflections on the process of dealing with the PCC (and, indeed, the Mail) are worth noting:
The newspaper's claim that an HSE study had found the dangers of white asbestos cement to be "insignificant" was also easy to disprove: Booker had made the self-same claim in the Sunday Telegraph back in 2008, and been rebutted in detail by the HSE.
Neither was it hard to show that the Mail had got it wrong in claiming that "it is virtually impossible to extract even a single dangerous fibre" from white asbestos cement. An HSE lab report from 2007 notes that "the claim that respirable airborne chrysotile fibres are not able to be released from asbestos cement products was refuted by the individual airborne fibres sampled during the breaking of the test sample with a hammer".
In theory, this should have been the end of the matter. According to the PCC's code, "a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence". What happened instead, in my view, speaks volumes both about the character of the Daily Mail, and the credibility of the newspaper industry's self-regulatory body.
After a delay of several weeks, the PCC forwarded me a dismissive response from the Daily Mail's executive managing editor, Robin Esser. While acknowledging some minor errors, Esser insisted that the disputed HSE study did indeed back up Booker's views on asbestos. The fact that the HSE had put out a statement explicitly rebutting this merely proved that "those responsible for HSE press releases are similarly unable to grasp the significance of findings published by their own statisticians". For good measure, Esser accused me (falsely, just in case you're wondering) of being "allied to a well-organised and well-funded commercial lobby", who "stand to benefit financially" from the "anti-asbestos campaign".
Rather than take ownership of the process, assess the various bits of evidence and come to a judgement, the PCC instead asked me to go through this new set of claims and produce a further response. Here I began to see why so many people have given up on the PCC. If a newspaper digs in its heels and simply denies all the evidence that's been presented, there doesn't seem to be much that the PCC can do except bat the issue back to the complainant.
And having been through this process, what of the PCC's 'fast, free and fair' slogan?
More time-consuming exchanges followed, with long gaps in between, while we awaited a response from the Daily Mail. In the end we won, sort of. The newspaper agreed to make some amendments to the text of the article, publish a short correction, and write a private apology to Michael Lees over Booker's comments about his wife. But to get even this far has taken seven months, and a substantial time investment, while the Daily Mail seems to have been able to drag the process out with impunity. "Free", perhaps – but hardly "fast", or "fair".
When someone complained about Richard Littlejohn's claim that most robberies in the UK were committed by Eastern Europeans, the Mail took nearly six weeks to reply to the PCC. In total, it took the paper two months to correct a claim that was obviously false.
Here's what Mail Editor Paul Dacre said in July, when he argued that fines for serious breaches of the Editor's Code shouldn't be introduced:
It cannot be said too often that the imposition of sizable fines would result in complainants and particularly the press having to use lawyers to defend their interests - signalling the death of a FREE fast system of complaints adjudication.
If it is taking seven months to resolve a complaint, this system is neither fast nor alive and well.