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April 24, 2017

Police chief who claimed Croydon Advertiser set out to discredit him has most of IPSO complaint rejected

By Dominic Ponsford

One aspect of a wide-ranging accuracy complaint brought by a police officer against the Croydon Advertiser has been upheld by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

But the regulator has ruled that the paper has taken sufficient action already by correcting the relevant articles.

Chief inspector Peter McGarry complained over articles published in April and May 2016 headlined:

  • “Exclusive: Questions over police accounts of knife incident that led to Croydon club closure
  • “Croydon Council’s licensing committee takes no action against Dice Bar
  • Senior police officer’s evidence raises further issues over knife incident behind nightclub closure
  • “Police refuse to answer key questions about conduct of officers towards Croydon nightclub Dice Bar
  • “Police inspector drove van along pavement to force clubbers out of Croydon town centre
  • “Met outlines extensive allegations facing Croydon officer who ‘failed to respond to fatal stabbing
  • “We could have done something’ says PC who claims police sergeant failed to attend fatal stabbing
  • “Racist Croydon police officer who ignored reports of stabbing sacked for gross misconduct
  • “Met Police says ‘no public interest’ in how much it spent on barrister during Croydon nightclub case”.

McGarry said the newspaper had deliberately attempted to discredit him by including his name in any negative stories relating to Croydon police.

He said the newspaper had given the misleading impression that he had been unable to see an individual holding a “large knife” from the CCTV footage, and that there had been discrepancies in the police evidence.

He also said that contrary to information given to the newspaper by a “well-placed source”, Croydon police station had its own forensic hub where he had been able to slow down and view the enhanced CCTV footage

He said that the photographs used to illustrate the article about his driving a police van along a pavement were misleading as the timings, which showed how slowly the vehicle had moved, had been removed.

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The newspaper said that a reliable, confidential source with knowledge of the facilities available at Croydon police station had informed the reporter that there was no forensic hub for enhanced viewing of CCTV footage at the station.

It noted that the existence and/or capabilities of the forensic hub had been one of a number of questions put to the complainant’s Commanding Officer but he had declined to comment.

During IPSO’s investigation, the newspaper contacted the police press officer and was informed that the Metropolitan Police has a local digital forensics laboratory at Croydon police station.

The Advertiser offered amend the relevant articles with the following footnote:

“A previous version of this article said, in relation to comments by Chief Inspector Peter McGarry that he had taken CCTV footage to a ‘forensic hub’, that ‘officers who want video footage to be analysed in detail must send it to a specialist unit in Denmark Hill’. In fact, there is a ‘forensic hub’ at Croydon police station where Ch Ins McGarry says he was able to view the footage. “

IPSO said the inaccuracy over the  forensic hub led to the “significantly misleading impression that the complainant’s evidence to the Licensing Committee had been false, and he had been unable to access facilities to enhance the CCTV footage, as he had claimed.”

However it rejected many other complaints brought by chief inspector McGarry over the Advertiser’s coverage.

It said that to remedy the breach of the code the newspaper should now amend the relevant articles and append the corrective footnotes, as offered. The Advertiser was not required to publish a critical adjudication.

Read the IPSO adjudication in full.

 

 

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