Press watchdog rules we did not breach Code of Conduct over reports into failed Fenland Festival organiser
THE Press Complaints Commission has rejected complaints made against the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard by failed Fenland Festival organiser Matthew Broadfield.
The former March shopkeeper claimed the papers had published a series of articles reporting on his election campaign for Fenland District Council and his organisation of the Fenland Festival. Mr Broadfield had claimed our reports contained inaccuracies and presented a distorted picture of him in breach of the Editors’ Code.
The commission says that “after assessment it has decided that no matters have been raised which show a breach of the Code.”
The more detailed reason for the decision is contained in their full ruling which has just been released:
“The complainant said that the newspaper had published a series of articles reporting on his election campaign for the local district council, and his organisation of a local festival, which contained inaccuracies and presented a distorted picture of him in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code. “Clause 1 (Accuracy) states that the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.
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“In this case, the complainant said that the newspaper had published a profile of him which included information from his old election manifesto – which related to his views on national issues rather than local issues – although this was accurate as some of his views had changed. He had notified the newspaper of this, but the newspaper had not addressed this in the article.
“The newspaper said the complainant had put forward the views reported in the article recently, and – while they reflected his ambitions on a national scale – it considered that they were relevant to his credentials as a local councillor. “The Commission made clear that the selection of material for publication is a matter for editorial discretion, provided that the material is not inaccurate. As it was not in dispute that the complainant had himself put forward these views shortly prior to publication, the Commission considered that the newspaper was entitled to publish them.
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“The complainant said that he had subsequently changed some of his views, but he had not specified how his views had changed. The newspaper had offered the complainant an opportunity to reply. In all the circumstances, the Commission could not establish a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) on this point.
“The complainant was concerned that the newspaper had stated that he was a “curious case”, in an article which reported that he had changed his surname. He was concerned that readers would be misled into believing that the police were investigating this matter. The Commission noted that the article did not mention the police, but rather stated that the complainant had “explained Ward was his mother’s maiden name but Broadfield is on his birth certificate”.
“The complainant had not disputed the accuracy of this statement, and the Commission did not consider that readers would have been misled into believing that this was a matter under police investigation. There was no breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code on this point.
“The complainant said that the newspaper had published two articles following the cancellation of his festival which portrayed him in a negative light, and had published an old photograph of him which was not representative of the way he looked now. “The Commission noted that the article of 27 August 2011 included comments from the complainant’s Facebook page. The other article, of 11 August 2011, was clearly presented as comment as it was an editorial, and the editor had written the article in the first person.
“The Commission was satisfied that the inclusion of comments from the complainant would have made readers aware of his position, and it also considered that the manner of presentation of the articles would have enabled readers to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.
“With respect to the photograph, the Commission made clear that the selection of material is a matter for editorial discretion. It did not consider that the use of an old photograph of the complainant would have significantly misled readers as to his appearance.
“The Commission could not establish a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) on these points.”