By Dominic Ponsford
The Voice newspaper has been rapped by the Press Complaints Commission after it reported "rumours" that a gang of Asian men had raped a black teenager as fact.
The story headlined "Gang of 19 Rape Teen" was published on Monday, 24 October, two days after the rumours had already prompted a night of rioting in Birmingham in which one man was killed and 35 injured.
To date, West Midlands Police have found no victim for the claimed rape, which was said to have involved 19 Asian shopkeepers attacking a 14-yearold girl.
The Voice is a weekly newspaper aimed at Britons of African-Caribbean descent. In the 24 October issue it also used an editorial to call for a boycott of some Asian shops in Birmingham.
The PCC upheld a complaint about the story, saying The Voice had breached Clause 1 (accuracy) of the editors’ code of conduct.
The PCC said: "The word ‘alleged’
was only used once on the front page — the article otherwise reported the rape claim as fact.
"There had been rioting in Birmingham following reports of a rape — something for which, the complainant said, the newspaper had to bear some responsibility because of its inaccurate reporting."
The Voice responded by pointing out that as the rioting happened before it went to press, it couldn’t be held responsible.
It also pointed to the fact that the following edition of the paper contained six pages on the story, including coverage of all viewpoints.
In its judgment, the PCC said: "There was therefore a failure to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact in breach of Clause 1 of the Code, something that the Commission did not consider was mitigated by the coverage on inside pages."
No one from The Voice was available for comment.
A spokesman for West Midlands Police said that so far they have uncovered no evidence to suggest the attack took place.