PCC censure for 'unacceptable' delay with complaint

The Press Complaints Commission has censured the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review for publishing a number of serious claims against its local council which it could not support with evidence.

Forest of Dean Council complained to the PCC over the accuracy of two articles ‘Knackered!’and ‘Dead end’published in the Review on 14 May.

The first reported the comments of a local farmer, who was facing a court order to stop an odour nuisance from his farm following an application by the council, the second was an editorial column on the matter.

The council claimed that aspects of the coverage were factually inaccurate, including the repeated claim that it was seeking to force the permanent closure of the farmer’s business.

The PCC today ruled that the Review had breached the accuracy guidelines of the Editors’ Code as it was unable to provide evidence to support a number of serious claims it had made, and ‘failed to demonstrate that it had taken care not to publish inaccurate information, or to offer appropriate remedial action to the complaint”.

The press watchdog also found the paper in breach of the code because of the time it took to respond to the complaint.

The PCC adjudication said: ‘The fact that it had taken more than 11 weeks for a substantive response to be received from the newspaper – which had only sent its initial response after the commission had contacted the publisher – was unacceptable.”

Stephen Abell, Director of the PCC, said full co-operation from the industry was a key factor in the system of press self-regulation.

‘This editorial lapse at the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review is a rare example of bad practice which the commission regards seriously,’Abell added.

‘It is in the process of taking the matter further and seeking confirmation of the measures the paper has introduced to ensure that there is no repeat of the problem”.

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