Showing posts with label privacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label privacy. Show all posts

Thursday, 14 February 2013

'I would like to ask MailOnline to please remove the photos'

Yesterday, MailOnline published an article under the headline: 'Baby's first picture! Pregnant Evan Rachel Wood can't stop smiling as she emerges with ultrasound scan':

The first photo on the article was of the actress holding the ultrasound picture. There was then a close-up of the image of the unborn child.

'Daily Mail Reporter' wrote:

She clutched the black and white photograph in one hand while strolling down the street with a friend.

Wood then took to Twitter to complain about the photos, making clear she wasn't 'strolling down the street' but on the roof of her hospital's parking garage:


MailOnline - named Newspaper Website of the Year at last year's Press Awards - has now removed the article.

(Hat-tips to ChainBear and Ian Childs)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

MailOnline and a photo of a nine-year-old girl in tears

From the Street of Shame column in issue 1318 of Private Eye:

“I believe absolutely that one of the main responsibilities of the new regulatory system should be to ensure that the editors’ code is followed both in spirit and the letter by all newspapers, magazines and, importantly, their online versions,” said Paul Dacre in his submission to the Leveson inquiry.

The Mail editor was referring to the Press Complaints Commission’s code and opining on how the press should be regulated. But one morning’s evidence at the end of last month revealed how well that works out in practice when it comes to Dacre’s own domain. 

Crying and holding a bunch of flowers
Media lawyer Giles Crown gave evidence on behalf of Edward Bowles, whose 11-year-old son Sebastian was one of the 28 people, most of them children, who were killed in a coach crash in Switzerland in March. On 15 March, the family were preparing to visit the scene of the crash when an agency photographer took a long-lens photograph of their nine-year-old daughter Helena, who was crying and holding a bunch of flowers she planned to leave at the site of her brother’s death. 

The photograph, captioned “Relatives of victims leave the hotel”, clearly violated clauses 3 (privacy), 5 (intrusion into grief or shock) and 6 (children) of the editors’ code of which Dacre is so fond – and yet the only UK newspaper to use it was the Daily Mail, on its website MailOnline.

Picture kept up for more than three months
The following day Mr Crown, a friend of the Bowles family, contacted both the PCC and editors, including Paul Dacre, on their behalf, to request that “all private photographs of the family… are removed immediately from all media websites, and there is no further publication whatsoever of any such photographs. In particular, there must be no more taking or publication of any photographs of Helena.” 

After a follow-up email sent to “two individuals at the Mail and a general editor’s or news email address as well” two days later, the paper did agree to remove some photographs it had acquired from Mr Bowles’s Facebook account. The picture of the distressed nine-year-old, however, was kept up for more than three months. 

While the inquiry was only able to establish that it had been available online until 19 June, the Eye can reveal that it was only finally pulled from the paper’s website at 11.32am on 25 June – precisely 24 hours before Lord Justice Leveson was due to hear evidence about the case. That evening, Mail managing editor Alex Bannister wrote to the Bowles family to apologise and to point out that at least “this photograph was not published in the Daily Mail” – where it would have been viewed by a mere 1.9m readers, as opposed to the 91.7m monthly users the website boasts. He also claimed that it had been “removed from our website as soon as we became aware that its subject was Helena”. 

The Mail’s excuse was that it thought the paparazzo snap might instead have been of a different, foreign under-ten grieving for their lost sibling. So that’s all right, then.

(The Guardian's report on Giles Crown's evidence to Leveson is here.)

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Mirror's 'weird' hatchet job on Steve Wright

Yesterday's Daily Mirror contained a 1,400-word article about DJ Steve Wright.

Written by Ryan Parry, the paper was so proud of this exposé, they included a teaser for it on the front page:

The front page called it the 'bizarre world of Steve Wright', the online version says it's a 'weird world'.

But the article appears to be a very thin hatchet job in which very little that is 'bizarre' or 'weird' is actually revealed. We're told:

he remains an enigma – even to his closest colleagues.


Off air he leads a surprisingly unassuming life for such a well-loved celebrity, shunning interviews and TV appearances. Instead he seems to prefer his own company, living on cheap microwave meals and junk snacks.


For breakfast, he usually asks for poached or scrambled eggs on brown toast from a restaurant called Avelli’s, porridge from Make Mine or Eat, a small bacon or sausage butty with ketchup from Eat and a skinny latte with one sweetener.

For lunch, he insists on a baked potato from Avelli’s or chilli chicken box from Leon’s or he may opt for a chicken pie from Eat.


Steve regularly travels to visit his mum on Fridays in Oxted in Surrey and he asks the broadcasting assistant to get him train tickets.


Home for Steve is now a £1million bachelor flat in Central London, above a scruffy garage where he parks his black Range Rover.

His son one of his few visitors there. But at the weekends, Steve escapes to a country bolthole he owns in West Sussex, near to his younger brother Laurence, 52, a business manager at a scooter rescue firm.


The DJ enjoys bombing around the Sussex countryside in a bright yellow Lotus sports car he owns – that’s if he’s not tinkering with his rare collection of old radios.

And on work days, Steve usually arrives at the Radio 2 studios at around 9am and leaves after the show ends at 5pm.

He will have an occasional drink at the nearby BBC club.

It's shocking stuff, isn't it?

There are other details, most of them coming from anonymous friends and colleagues. But it doesn't live up to its billing and makes one wonder exactly what the point of it is. Why this apparent invasion of privacy into the life of someone who, the paper admits, 'shuns the limelight'?

The comments on the Mirror's website are from people who are all puzzled. They call the article 'nasty', 'filthy', 'strange', 'mean-spirited', 'horrible', 'trashy', 'appalling' and 'unnecessary'.

But, as Alexis Petridis remarks in today's Lost in Showbiz column, at least it shows:

that the nation's red-tops are perfectly capable of getting mind-blowing scoops into celebrities' private lives without resorting to phone hacking.

(themanwhofell has imagined the discussion at the Mirror's editorial meeting.)

(Hat-tip to Steve Baxter)

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Tabloid complains about 'perving' over Pippa

Today's Daily Star Sunday front page looks like this:

The 'story' at the top of the page shows it isn't just the Mail that is obsessed with The Only Way Is Essex. This being the Star, the headline seems to imply that Jordan is to 'join' the show. In fact, she just happens (ahem) to be on holiday in the same place as some of the TOWIE cast.

In the Star's article, it includes the 'news' that:

Reports claimed Amy was set to quit the show to star in her own reality series about her life in the spotlight.

And where did those 'reports' appear?

Ah. Still, at least the Star has 'exclusively' revealed the truth:

But she exclusively told us: “I’m not leaving and I love being on the show.”

And by 'exclusively', they mean, she told her 300,000 followers on Twitter she wasn't leaving. Five days ago.

That tweet was picked up by the MailOnline's regular Twitter-watcher Georgina Littlejohn, who leapt into action to produce 'I'm not leaving': Amy Childs denies reports she has quit The Only Way Is Essex. So someone denying an untrue story in one paper becomes a story for another media outlet.

Georgina, who coincidentally works for the same news outlet as her dad Richard, explained:

Amy Childs has come out in defence of reports that she has quit the show after a bust-up with Mark Wright over hogging the limelight at the awards.

'In defence of reports'?

Anyway, back to the Daily Star Sunday's front page, and their lead story Pippa pervs: Sick German's target Royal sister. The article explains:

Royal sister Pippa Middleton got the Pip last night after an undie-Hans attack by a kinky German snapper.

And the paper is so appalled by this disgraceful behaviour, it reveals exactly where you can see the photos:

Pictures revealing her panties were spread across Germany’s biggest selling Bild newspaper yesterday and all over its website, which can be accessed by British readers.

The article continues:

The briefs encounter – proudly dubbed the “Panties Blitzer” by the newspaper – shows Pippa revealing all as she gets into a car in London last week.

“When the 27-year-old beauty on Wednesday in London rose in her car, she accidentally granted a glimpse of her panties,” leers the paper in its English language version.

Imagine that? Surely no British newspaper would be so 'sick' as to 'leer' over Pippa Middleton?

Well, the Daily Star has referred to 'perky Pippa' and 'Her Royal Hotness', and called her 'sexy' and 'queen of the hotties' with a 'banging body' and the 'phwoar factor'. They've said her bum is her 'biggest ass-et' and have at least twice published pictures just focussing on her bum, including one that was on the front page. The latest was this one which came attached to an article that included a suspiciously anonymous quote:

And it's not just Bild's 'perving' that the paper is (not really) outraged about:

And the mangled caption continues: “With their unwanted Panties Blitzer, Pippa to its reputation as ‘Her Royal Hotness’ fair – not only the British are very excited about her sexy appearance.”

The caption is 'mangled', of course, because the Daily Star Sunday hack has simply clicked Google Translate and copied and pasted that translation.

And who is the hack responsible for this lazy, pathetic, hypocritical nonsense?

It's ex-News of the World Royal Correspondent, and former jailbird and phone-hacker Clive Goodman.

Who better to complain, in a Sunday red-top, about such an invasion of privacy?

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Pippa, privacy and perving

On Monday, the Guardian revealed that the Middleton's had complained to the Press Complaints Commission on the issue of privacy:

...after five-year-old photographs of Kate and Pippa Middleton and their mother, Carole, in bikinis while on holiday with Prince William on board a yacht off Ibiza were published in four newspapers.

The pictures, in the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, News of the World and Daily Mirror showed the Middletons swimming, diving and sunbathing. The News of the World also showed Pippa Middleton removing her bikini top with the headlines "Oh buoy it's Pippa" and "So hot she had to be hosed down." Further photographs were displayed for a time on the newspaper's website but later taken down.

Undeterred, today's Daily Star devotes 576 words to....Pippa Middleton's bum. Or, as middle-aged hack Nigel Pauley refers to it in his leering article, the 27-year old's:

biggest ass-et.

Their front page includes a close-up shot of her bum - taken from one of the holiday photos mentioned above - accompanied by the headline 'So bot's happened to perky Pippa?':

The article is shockingly bad:

Fans fear Her Royal Hotness Pippa Middleton is in danger of losing her biggest ass-et. They believe her rear end is performing its own VIP disappearing act as she seeks a more slimline figure.

...her fans fear the posh totty is losing her famous botty as the weight seems to have tumbled off the 27-year-old since her big sister Kate’s wedding.
Pippa had been seen as a shoe-in to land this year’s coveted Rear Of The Year award.

But now her chances are disappearing, along with her curves.
She has returned from a sunshine holiday and yesterday looking tanned but trim as she left hairdresser Richard Ward’s salon in Chelsea.

One of her bottom’s biggest fans said: “Pippa’s top of the botts but is definitely looking a lot more trim in recent days.

“It would be a tragedy if her slimline figure results in her losing her best asset, which is definitely her gorgeous behind.”

So Pauley has trawled the internet and (allegedly) found one person to quote on this all-important topic. But how has this anonymous person (from an unnamed website) seen her in 'recent days' if she's been on holiday?

And can 'the weight' really have 'tumbled off' her in the two weeks since the wedding? Well, not according to the pictures published in today's Sun, in which she looks much the same. Indeed, the Sun claims Pippa is looking 'ripper' and is 'sure to gain more admirers in this outfit'.

They also include a quote from an anoynmous 'onlooker' and a photo of Pippa's bum, cropping her head out of the photo just to be clear where their interest lies:

As Steve Baxter says in his New Statesman column:

It seems that P-Middy's derriere has achieved iconic status after appearing at the royal wedding - so much so that the lady, the human being with a soul, to whom it belongs is becoming somewhat dehumanised...

We don't need a face, or eyes, or a person attached to it. This is the arse that rules the world - or our popular culture, anyway...

Is this what it's come to? A whole person's life boiled down to their bum?

Back to the Star, which also devotes a 100-word editorial comment to this non-story:

Pippa Middleton has been a great role model for Brit girls. She’s well educated, polite, caring, is planning her own business and has impressed the world with her beautiful curves. She showed impeccable decorum during the royal wedding. And as a result is a wholesome English rose the whole of Britain can be proud of.

But “her royal hotness” is now looking a little too slim.
And she’s in danger of losing the famous bottom that has earned praise across the globe. Please don’t get too skinny Pippa. You’re perfect the way you are. And a real inspiration to young women everywhere.

Isn't it strange how that anonymous internet fan seems to think the same as the Star's editorial?

'Educated, polite and caring'
she may be, but the paper has already declared that her 'biggest ass-et' is her, err, ass. This follows a series of Star articles where she's been called 'sexy' and 'queen of the hotties' with a 'banging body' and the 'phwoar factor'.

Yes, it's clearly her education they're interested in...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Christopher Jefferies sues for libel

When Christopher Jefferies was arrested during the investigation into the murder of Jo Yeates, some sections of the media launched into a quite disgraceful character assassination of the man who would be eventually released without charge:

The Mail called Jefferies 'Mr Strange', 'the 'nutty professor' and 'Professor Strange'. He 'idolised a poet obsessed by death', they claimed. The Mirror called him a 'peeping tom'. The Sun called him 'strange' and 'obsessed by death' and in one article, as Anton pointed out, he was described as:

"weird", "lewd", "strange", "creepy", "angry", "odd", "disturbing", "eccentric", "a loner" and "unusual".

In unsurprising news, his lawyers announced today:

Mr Christopher Jefferies has today given notice of libel and privacy claims against a large number of national and local newspapers in relation to articles published by them in December 2010 and January 2011.

The newspapers include The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Star among others. Mr Jefferies will be seeking vindication of his reputation for the terrible treatment he received. Mr Jefferies will not be making any statement about these claims until their conclusion, which he hopes will be in the very near future.

Simons Muirhead & Burton partner, Louis Charalambous, who also represented Robert Murat, leads the team representing Mr Jefferies in these libel and privacy claims.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Mail apologises to Matt Lucas

In August, Matt Lucas launched a privacy claim against the Daily Mail for its article 'How Matt Lucas learnt to laugh again'. This followed a successful privacy action taken against the Daily Star.

As the Press Gazette reported at the time:

According to a writ filed at the High Court, the Mail’s story left Lucas upset, distressed and annoyed.

The journalist who wrote the story and other editorial staff, the writ adds, could not have failed to realise the “very serious invasion of privacy and intrusion into grief it represented”.

Lucas contends that close relatives and friends quoted in the story did not make the statements attributed to them and that much of the information was false.

It was also claimed that the Mail had, typically, refused to acknowledge any problem with the article:

Lucas, who instructed London law firm Schillings to act on his behalf, said Associated Newspapers, owner of the Mail, had refused to apologise or accept the story should not have been published.

What a difference a few months and a legal action make, because the Mail has now apologised:

An article (March 1) ‘How Matt Lucas learned to laugh again’ caused great upset to Mr Lucas which we did not intend and regret.

The article on Mr Lucas’ return to public life following the tragic death of Kevin McGee suggested he had ignored Kevin’s calls, became a virtual recluse, and hosted a birthday party to ‘move on’.

We accept this was not the case and apologise to Mr Lucas.

This follows an apology and substantial damages which Lucas gained from the Daily Star in May for another invasion of privacy claim.

As with last week's apology to Sophie Dahl, there is no mention of this retraction on the Mail's homepage. Yet, as Minority Thought pointed out a few days ago, the Editor's Code Committee Secretary recently claimed it is a 'myth' to say corrections are buried.

UPDATE - MediaGuardian reports that Lucas has won substantial damages to go with the Mail's apology. And:

Lucas said in a statement: "This has been and continues to be a very difficult time for me and all those who loved Kevin.

"My deep pain and sorrow have been made even greater by the intrusive and defamatory stories made about my private life in the Daily Mail.

"I had no choice but to bring these proceedings to protect my private life and my right to grieve in peace.

"I'd like to add that I take no pleasure or sense of triumph in this settlement. I am just relieved that this case has been resolved and I sincerely hope this sort of intrusive reporting will now end."

Monday, 30 August 2010


The latest migration figures have, predictably, led to a flurry of newspaper articles, not all of them entirely accurate.

Exclarotive looks at a misleading Mail headline while Five Chinese Crackers looks at the article that followed. He has also written two posts looking into claims about England's population density and an earlier piece in the Mail linking immigration to crime.

The discovery of the body of spy Gareth Williams has led to a lot of guesswork from journalists. Minority Thought looks at some of the speculation from the Sun ('it was al-Qaeda') and the Mail, while Primly Stable 'learns' that Williams:

was stabbed, poisoned and strangled to death by a gay-slaying Al-Qaeda agent who was a colleague and a friend and police fear that secrets that were not stolen from his flat could be sold to Britain's enemies.

It's not surprising that Williams' uncle criticised the speculation:

"When you have these rumours in the papers, it is most distressing. It is heartbreaking that he has died so young and his family have enough on their plate without having to read these stories.

"Gareth's parents are not doing well at all. They are in a state of shock and struggling to come to terms with what has happened. They have seen what has been in the papers and they are very, very upset about these untruths."

Unfortunately, as with the Stephen Griffiths case in May, the media seems to relish spreading lurid gossip rather than sticking to the facts.

Indeed, Matt Lucas has launched a legal action against the Daily Mail for an intrusive and untrue article about the death of his former civil partner Kevin McGee:

Lucas contends that close relatives and friends quoted in the story did not make the statements attributed to them and that much of the information was false.

The story claimed Lucas was planning to have a big birthday party. According to the writ, Lucas had already told friends and family he would not celebrate his birthday this year and was out of the country at the time.

The writ said Lucas was particularly distressed by allegations that he blamed himself for McGee’s death and was hosting a party to “let go of the pain”. Both claims were untrue, it said.

Lucas, who instructed London law firm Schillings to act on his behalf, said Associated Newspapers, owner of the Mail, had refused to apologise or accept the story should not have been published.

Meanwhile, the Mirror, Mail and Express have been making exaggerated claims about grapefruit, as Minority Thought reports. The Express' headline stated 'Eat grapefruit to fight off diabetes' although Jo Willey's article later admitted:

to get the beneficial effect, someone would need to eat 400 grapefruits in one sitting.

Moreover, NHS Behind the Headlines pointed out that:

consuming too much grapefruit can interfere with people’s drug treatment and cause harmful effects.

While the Express loves miracle cure stories, the Mail website loves articles pointing out a famous person has lost/gained too much weight. The paper asks today 'Why ARE women so unhappy in their own skin?' (own?). Maybe some of their recent articles, as highlighted by Angry Mob, are to blame?

At Enemies of Reason, Anton has written three posts about mental health. While the Sun has tried to avoid 'bonkers' by using 'zany', 'weird' and 'wacky' instead, the Star has no such qualms about using the word, splashing it all over the front page.

Also from Anton, a post about a Sun front page story reporting a crocodile sighting in the English Channel. Having written two sensationalist articles about the 'killer croc' the Sun should have admitted that it was, in fact, a piece of wood. But it appears to have forgotten to set the record straight.

It's not the only bit of forgetfulness from a Murdoch-owned paper. George Eaton at New Statesman explains how The Times' readers might not have seen the criticisms of Sky from BBC Director-General Mark Thompson during his speech at the Edinburgh Festival because of the paper's selective, partial reporting.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Cumbrian MP launches attack on the media

On 23 June, the MP for Copeland, in Cumbria, made a speech in the House of Commons about the murders committed by Derrick Bird.

Jamie Reed spoke about the community, the police and the victims. But he also was very critical of much of the media coverage and called for a:

better, enforceable code of conduct for the media

He said:

In such situations, there is no place for the media's invented exclusives, its prurience and voyeurism, its mawkish brutality and its cold-blooded pursuit of profit at the expense of the families of those most affected.

Everyone expects intense media coverage of tragedies such as that which affected Cumbria, but do people really expect the news to give way to entertainment?

I wish to talk about the behaviour of much of the media in recent weeks, and the anger and dismay that it has caused among my community.

He made clear that this ire was aimed mainly at the national media:

The media local to the tragedy - the Whitehaven News, the News & Star, the North West Evening Mail, Border television, BBC Radio Cumbria and "Look North" - reported the tragedy with a care and diligence entirely different from that of the national media.

That is because they are rooted in the area and care about the people about whom they are reporting. They understand the power of their roles and the effects of carrying them out in particular ways.

The Whitehaven News was particularlyimpressive, as just one week before, it had reported the tragic deaths of Kieran Goulding and Chloe Walker, constituents who were killed in the Keswick bus crash. Like the News & Star, the Whitehaven News understands the role that it plays in my community and how it can help the community's healing process-not the families' healing process, perhaps, but certainly the community's.

To give a parallel - I know that this is a difficult issue - certain national newspapers have elicited feelings in my community similar to those that were elicited in Liverpool by the way that the Hillsborough tragedy was reported.

He added:

The second lesson is not to seek to curb the freedom of the press or broader media, but to seek a better, enforceable code of conduct for the media.

Certain desperate, spiteful journalists have written some dreadfully inaccurate copy simply because members of the community would not speak to them on learning that they were journalists.

That reflects badly on those journalists; naming them would surprise nobody and so serves no purpose today.

It would be fair to assume that Carole Malone may well be one of those he won't name.

One price we pay for a free press is its freedom to write such misleading and opinionated bile. However, press intrusion is not a price anyone has ever agreed to pay.

Nobody ever agreed to have journalists camped on their doorsteps while they were in the immediate aftermath of bereavement; to have friends and family members offered money if they spoke to, or obtained a photo of, a distraught relative of one of those who died; or to have six-figure sums paid for exclusives, or smaller sums paid to them if they could tell the whereabouts or movements of certain individuals, even if those individuals would be going to school that day.

And Reed explained he's going to try and do something about it:

If the west Cumbrian community demonstrates just how far from being broken Britain really is, then behaviour like that from certain sections of the media demonstrates just how dysfunctional and broken the media's values are, and that their attempts to infect decent society with their values are iniquitous and wrong.

I know journalists who have had their stomachs turned by the actions of some in their fold - they are far from being all the same - but surely such behaviour cannot be sanctioned and must be stopped.

To that end, I will write to the National Union of Journalists and the Press Complaints Commission to seek meetings, and to discuss how the issue can be taken forward and how professional codes of practice can be improved significantly.

I have spent so much time talking about the media because the activities of certain sections of them have weighed particularly heavily on the community in recent weeks. They have caused particular distress, anger and concern, and I feel duty-bound to articulate those concerns today.

His intentions are good, but whether the Press Complaints Commission or the Editor's Code Committee (the latter chaired by Mail Editor Paul Dacre) will act is very doubtful.

Moreover, although Reed's comments were reported on Radio 4's Today in Parliament, it seems they have been ignored by almost every other national media outlet.

Given the strength of his remarks, perhaps that's not surprising - large sections of the media seem incapable of accepting, or even acknowledging, any criticism of their behaviour and so ignore the debate that needs to be had about newspaper regulation.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Star pays damages; Sun withdraws 'gender bender'

Another month, another payout by one of Richard Desmond's wretched 'newspapers'.

This time, it's the Daily Star that has had to cough up, for invading the privacy of Little Britain star Matt Lucas following the death of Kevin McGee.

MediaGuardian reports:

Lucas informed the media that he did not want to discuss the matter and asked for his privacy to be respected.

However, the Daily Star published a story alleging that Lucas had been put on suicide watch and that he had met a new boyfriend and chosen to move on.

"Such claims are wholly without foundation, and publishing these false claims at this time considerably aggravated the hurt and distress caused by the article," [Lucas' solicitor John] Kelly told the high court.

He added that the newspaper had also published an article speculating that the reason for the couple's divorce was McGee's use of cocaine.

The Express Newspapers:

offered its sincere apologies for invading his privacy and for the distress caused.

That sincerity would be more believable if they'd thought about that before rushing to print.

Meanwhile, the PCC has published details of a resolved complaint, where a woman complained about The Sun calling her a 'gender bender'.

Another sensitive bit of Sun reporting, resolved when:

the newspaper wrote to the complainant accepting her concern about the language used and removed the article from its website.

Alas, as the article was published in 2008, it took the Sun two years to understand the 'concern' about that term.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Sun resolves Nutt complaint - when will the Mail follow suit?

Back in November, the Sun did a disgraceful hatchet job on Stephen Nutt, son of sacked Government drug advisor Prof. David Nutt. Stephen was in no way a public figure and publishing photos from his Facebook page was an invasion of privacy, with no public interest angle and simply shoddy and cheap journalism.

Needless to say, the Mail published the same story soon after:

Both articles soon vanished because of an inevitable complaint to the PCC. And the issue has now been resolved following publication of a letter from Stephen Nutt in the Sun:

Further to your article about photographs of me on my Facebook site, (November 14) I would like to make clear the pictures were not posted by me and while I had been drinking I was smoking a rolled-up cigarette which did not contain cannabis as the article insinuated.

My younger sister Lydia was not intoxicated, so was not drinking under age. My older brother lives in Sweden where it is custom to use a sauna followed by a ‘romp' in the snow in winter. He was neither drunk nor under the influence of intoxicants.

Innocuous photographs were taken out of context in an attempt to discredit my father's work.

With Nutt agreeing to the letter, the Sun have avoided having to print any retraction or apology.

But since the original article appeared online, not just in the printed version, the letter must appear there too. But as yet, it doesn't.

Moreover, the PCC do not record the Mail publishing any such letter either in the paper or online. So not for the first time there seems to be a disconnect in how the same story is corrected by different papers.

Is it that the PCC doesn't know how to hold the Mail to account in this case without a complaint, or that it doesn't want to?

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Corrections round-up

Three errors of varying seriousness exposed today. Firstly, the Mail on Sunday has agreed to pay undisclosed but substantial damages, plus legal costs, to Madonna for publishing pictures of her wedding to Guy Ritchie. MediaGuardian explains:
Associated Newspapers admitted liability for breaching Madonna's privacy and copyright infringement.

It had destroyed all copies of the infringing photographs in its possession and agreed to pay the singer damages and her legal costs.

Over at the Daily Star, the following correction appeared:

On October 1 we stated in an article headed “Hammer horror” that soldiers from 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards are having to resort to building their own furniture after being taught how to make chairs and tables at Mons Barracks in Aldershot, Hants, because of limited provisions in Afghanistan.

We now accept that the story was incorrect and that the training was worthwhile to prepare them for coping with conditions on the ground in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the PCC have given the Telegraph a slap on the wrist for what appears to be a slightly strange reason. During one of their many expenses stories, Brian Binley MP was referred to as a 'millionaire' with a 'multi-million pound fortune'. Binley denied he was, or had, any such thing. The Telegraph was reluctant to publish an apology and clarification.

It is very welcome that the PCC will adjudicate against newspapers for factual errors, and for dragging their feet, but it does seem a bizarrely inconsequential case. Take the recent ruling against Ken Livingstone when the Mail published two very misleading stories about him and the PCC ruled that they would not 'have altered the general understanding of the situation' despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.

Given that the slap on the wrist makes very little difference, it seems fairly unimportant either way. But it surely needs to be consistent.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Leave Elisabeth Fritzl alone

Some good news from the Daily Star however: Elisabeth Fritzl is 'cured'. Twenty years locked in a cellar being raped up to 3,000 times by her father and having seven children by him, but now she's fine:

Dungeon incest victim Elisabeth Fritzl has cured herself of her stress disorder by finding love with her bodyguard. Docs have let her quit psychiatric therapy as love has proved the best medicine of all.

The story of Ms Fritzl having a relationship was reported in lots of papers, but only the Star appears to have claimed that she was 'cured'. Probably because it's a deeply stupid word to use.

Given that the source for all versions of the story was one Austrain newspaper, it may be viewed sceptically, certainly in terms of claims she has stopped all regular psychiatry sessions. Only in March did the Guardian report that Elisabeth was:

said to be distraught and close to a breakdown after being forced this week to move out of the family's hide-away home, to which they moved earlier this year, after a British paparazzo burst into her kitchen and started taking photographs.

Now we can all wish her well in this new relationship and can only hope she manages to put her experiences behind her as best as she can. But is it necessary to reveal each new development in the media? Or for reporters from the Times to traipse around her new home village looking for clues?

When Paul Dacre was giving his evidence to the parliamentary Select Committee on privacy, he was asked about the the fact the Mail revealed the name of the village to which Elisabeth had moved to start her new life. And his response?

"I don't know the circumstances," he said, promising to investigate the matter and write to the committee with a response.

Which is clearly not good enough. He should know about such an important fact being put in his newspaper. But really, hasn't Elisabeth Fritzl been through enough without now being hounded by a media pack desperate for the latest update on her life. If she wishes to write or talk about her experiences, fine. But otherwise she and her children should be left well alone.