Silent treatment forces PCC to uphold complaint - Press Gazette

Silent treatment forces PCC to uphold complaint

PCC: admonished Dublin’s Sunday World

The Press Complaints Commission has admonished the Sunday World for failing to co-operate in the resolution of a complaint.

It upheld complaints of inaccuracies in an article published in July by a festival organiser who accused the journalist involved in writing the piece of being "determined to ruin him" and of having "a personal vendetta".

The commission’s adjudication emphasised: "It is the responsibility of editors to co-operate with the PCC as swiftly as possible in the resolution of complaints. In this case, such co-operation by the newspaper has not been forthcoming and the commission is disappointed by the stance it has taken on the matter."

Apart from a denial of the allegations of inaccuracy, the Sunday World had failed to answer the specific complaints. This meant the commission could not make an informed judgement on them.

It had to assume "that the newspaper could not offer a detailed defence against the claims and had no choice but to uphold the complaint".

The system of self-regulation of the press relied on the voluntary participation of editors, stressed the commission, and it "wished to make its concern clear".

The PCC is to ask the editor to ensure that complaints are more speedily dealt with in the future.

Festival organiser Roy McIntosh had complained about an article headlined "Fairy fest probed by the PSNI".

He said that the piece, which reported on a festival he had organised in 2000, was misleading when it described some incidents of two years ago as if they had just happened. The article was inaccurate in its description of his house, of his style of dress, of his alleged hobbies and was wrong in its claim that he was computer literate.  McIntosh also said that the piece was wrong in stating that a previous complaint he had made to the Press Complaints Commission had been "thrown out". He added that the article was incorrect in stating that a police investigation began after the Insolvency Service called in detectives. In fact, he said, the police had been investigating the festival before the Insolvency Service had started its own work.

The newspaper said it had covered the collapse of the festival two years ago and was now updating readers on the latest events. It said the investigation into the festival and the complainant had recently been taken over by the police from the Insolvency Service. The police had seized computers belonging to the complainant’s business partner. The facts of the story were true, it stated.

The PCC did not throw out a previous complaint made by McIntosh, it said, since no ruling had ever been made on the substance of that matter. For technical reasons, the commission had not been able to rule on the case.

The Dublin-based Sunday World also has a Northern Ireland edition.

By Jean Morgan