Front-page correction for Rochdale MP over expenses

The Rochdale Observer will publish a front-page correction this weekend following a story about its local MP’s expenses claims.

Press Gazette understands that lawyers representing Paul Rowen, the Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale, complained on Monday about the paper’s coverage.

The Observer, which is owned by the Guardian Media Group‘s north-west regional arm MEN Media, claimed Rowen had spent £26,000 on printing, advertising and party political campaigning.

Rowen said in a statement earlier this week that the report was “inaccurate, misleading and damaging to my reputation”.

“This last week has probably been the hardest of my political life,” he said.

“Since the article appeared I’ve been contacted by scores of Rochdalians shocked at the way the Rochdale Observer has belittled and misrepresented the work that I do. CP Scott must be turning in his grave.”

He added: “I appreciate the scrutiny of the expenses I incur in my job representing Rochdale locally and nationally. As someone who has represented Rochdale both on the council and in parliament, I am shocked.”

Press Gazette understands that the Observer will run a front-page correction in the Saturday edition of the paper and has also agreed to make a contribution towards legal costs and a donation to a local charity.

The apology will read: “The Rochdale Observer would like to make it clear it has no information that Paul Rowen MP was using parliamentary expenses to fund Liberal Democrat political activities and apologises if any reader got that impression.”

Manchester Evening News editor Paul Horrocks, who has handled the complaint on behalf of the Rochdale paper, said he could not discuss details about the terms of the settlement.

He told Press Gazette: “We have reached a mutual agreement.”

Rowen said in a statement this afternoon: “This is the first time in over 25 years of elected office that I have had to take legal action.

“I am glad that both the paper and myself have resolved this issue amicably.”

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