PCC rejects complaint by former actress

Fawlty Towers actress Connie Booth has had an accuracy and misrepresentation complaint against the Camden New Journal rejected by the Press Complaints Commission.

Booth, who lives in London, complained following a feature headlined “Don’t mention the classic comedy series”, which appeared in the independent free weekly.

She now works as a psychotherapist and contacted the Journal to enquire about advertising a support group for single mothers that she had set up.

A journalist offered instead to write a feature about the group and an interview was arranged. Booth claimed it was on the express condition that no photograph of her was used.

When the article appeared, four promotional photographs of Booth were included and she complained that the piece focused more on her life and acting career than the group itself.

She said that she recalled no discussion about her previous career during the interview and therefore considered that the article had been obtained through misrepresentation.

Her solicitors said the article was inaccurate because of the statement “like many an actor before her, she has found solace in therapy”, which they said wrongly gave the impression that she had emotional issues.

The Journal told the PCC that it had indicated to Booth that it would be very difficult not to mention her past career in the piece. According to the newspaper, she agreed that mentioning her acting career could help in attracting publicity for her group.

The newspaper said the issue of photography was not mentioned until the actual interview was taking place, when Booth declined to provide a recent photograph of herself.

All the photographs used were from freely available library sources.

Rejecting Booth’s complaint, the PCC said it did not consider that a dispute over copy approval breached Clause 11 (misrepresentation).

It added that the decision to include publicly available material about the complainant’s former career was a matter of editorial discretion.

With regard to the alleged inaccuracies, the Commission did not consider that readers would have been significantly misled by the use of the phrase “solace in therapy”.

It said: “The connection which was made between acting and psychotherapy represented the journalist’s comment.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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