PCC rejects Livingstone complaint over rail fare 'dodge'

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint by former London mayor Ken Livingstone made over a series of Daily Mail articles claiming he had “dodged” a rail fare.

Livingstone lodged his complaint over articles published in March which suggested despite his not purchasing a ticket for a train journey from Paddington to Slough, he was not forced to pay a penalty fare.

The Mail said the incident contrasted with his “zero tolerance” policy on fare dodging when he was Mayor of London.

In the complaint Livingstone said he had been unable to buy a ticket as a tube delay meant he arrived at the station just minutes before his train departed and like many other passengers he approached station staff at his destination where no-one received a fine.

Making its ruling the PCC said that while the account bore the interpretation of the freelance reporter who had witnessed the event, there appeared to be nothing inaccurate about it and therefore the paper was under no obligation to obtain Livingstone’s version of events.

The PCC stated: “The freelance reporter was an eyewitness to the fact that the complainant [Livingstone] did not have a ticket, which was the substance of the story, so there was no need to contact the complainant to find out whether it was true.

“The statements regarding the complainant being warned were attributed to a spokesman for First Great Western, and the suggestion that the complainant had looked embarrassed was attributed to a witness.

“Whether or not it was technically correct that the complainant had ‘admitted his error’ was not significant given that he had accepted that he had approached station staff to tell them that he did not have a ticket.”

The PCC failed to uphold the complaint as it said it did not consider the coverage misleading.

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