The story concerned a planning application for a permanent traveller site submitted by the Doc Martin actor’s neighbours in Dorset that was opposed by him, other locals and the town’s councillors.
Mail Online reported that Clunes had told journalists outside his home: “We are very lucky to have this beautiful view. It would be a terrible shame if it was spoilt. We love living here.”
He added: “I am not going to comment on this, thank you. But you are welcome to speak to my neighbour… to seek his comments. My understanding is that the proposals are now going to be heard by council committee members.”
But Clunes disputed saying it would be a “terrible shame” if his view was “spoilt” and said it would make no sense to say this as the proposed site was not visible from his property.
He pointed out that neither of the two journalists present had a notepad or were taking notes.
Mail Online did not accept the story breached Clause 1 (accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. It said that after speaking to Clunes, the journalist returned to his car, drove off the property and wrote down what had been said about ten minutes later. It added that it was “confident” the quote was accurate.
IPSO’s complaints committee decided, however, that writing down the quotes ten minutes later meant they were not contemporaneous.
“The committee noted that, whilst contemporaneous notes are generally considered to be a good way to demonstrate that care has been taken to accurately report conversations, it did not consider that the notes in these circumstances were contemporaneous,” the IPSO ruling said.
“It found this to be the cases where there had been several opportunities for the journalists to take notes of the conversation prior to the point where they had actually done so. For instance, the notes could have been taken at the time of the conversation by either of the two journalists, in the car as soon as they returned to it, or by one journalist whilst the other was driving. Instead, a period of ten minutes elapsed between the conversation taking place and the notes being taken.”
The complaints committee decided that “on the balance of probabilities, it was more likely than not that the journalist had made an error when recording the conversation”.
It added that this was a “significant” error as the quote was setting out Clunes’ alleged opinion of the planning application.
Also today: Former health secretary Matt Hancock has lost a second IPSO complaint against the Daily Mirror in under three months.
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