Friday, 28 January 2011

Mail apologises for telling only half the story

This apology was published on the Mail website on 26 January:

Dr Narendra Sharma

In our article of 30 March 2009, Doctor 'abused abortion patients', we reported allegations of sexual assault by Dr Sharma during a criminal trial, but did not report on the outcome. Dr Sharma was found not guilty of all charges and the trial judge stated that he could 'leave the Court without a stain on [his] character'. We are happy to set the record straight and apologise to Dr Sharma for the distress and embarrassment caused.”

(Hat-tip to The Grim Reaper)


  1. Oh well, it's not like it was a BIG error to report that a doctor was raping his patients, right?

  2. They didn't report that he was raping his patients - they reported allegations of sexual assault. The fact that these allegations got as far as a criminal trial suggests that it was right and proper for the paper to report on it, in my view. They were amiss in that they failed to report the verdict, and the apology is appropriate. All in all, I see no real issue here.

  3. I think the headline stating that a "Doctor Abused abortion patients" was misleading as there had only been allegations and a trial was still underway. The Mail jumped to a conclusion and blamed him before an outcome was reached in a court of Law. That in itself is worth the apology as most people would read the headline and form the opinion from that.

    Not only that but as usual, the Mail whip up a frenzy and call someone guilty and then totally "forget" to tell thier readers that he was indeed innocent of all charges until some time after the trial is over.

    So there is quite a serious issue here.

  4. Yeah, I hear what you're saying. I'm not sure I totally agree, but yeah, you make a fair point.

  5. The apology is anything but appropriate. Dr Sharma was cleared the following week of all charges, and apparently the stress caused his elderly mother to have a heart attack. Yet the Mail waited 21 months to make an apology, which is disgraceful as usual from the DM.

  6. Well, ok, but it's hardly the Mail's fault that there was sufficient evidence for the CPS to obtain a criminal trial, no? Neither was it their fault that the seriousness of the accusations caused the GMC to suspend Sharma's fitness for practice.

    The heart attack suffered by his (80-year old)mother is irrelevant, in my view. The stress may or may not have been a contributing factor, and even if it was, I'd suggest it was the stress of the trial and not the stress of its reportage.

    Yes, the apology was late. Then again, I doubt whether a quick apology would have made much difference to his state of mind, his career or his mother's health anyway.

    Nevertheles, I'll concede the point. It was dealt with inappropriately in light of the trial's outcome and the time lapse to apologise.

  7. Whoever this anonymous defender of the Mail is either not a media professional or is a Mail employee.
    The fact it if someone tells the world you are a sex offender, they must then also, with equal fanfare, tell the world when it is proven you are not as soon as possible.
    Read the media law, then get a dictionary and look up the word 'contemporaneous'. Then if you do work at the Mail draw this to the attention of your editor, quickly.

  8. You're not pompous enough, are you? No, I am neither a media professional nor a Mail employee.

    I wouldn't say I am defending the Mail particularly - merely that in the scale of atrocities committed by the publication on a daily basis, this example is at the lower end.

    They didn't make up the story and tell the world he was a sex offender - they reported such accusations made against him through the appropriate legal system. The man was actually in court defending such charges, for God's sake. The real issue, which I have conceded, is the lack of clarity on the outcome and the length of time taken to apologise for this lapse..

    Had the man been found guilty of these charges, would the story still have attracted this blog's attention? No. Why? Because the initial reportage was fair - it was just the 'after-care' that proved amiss.

  9. The fact remains that they still had the headline "Doctor abused abortion patients" when he hadn't and at the time there was nothing but allegations. If they really had to report it before the verdict was in (which they didn't) They should have had a headline such as "Doctor facing abuse allegations".

    Everything to do with the article is wrong, not just the timeline involved.


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