Sunday Mail Part-Rapped by PCC

The Sunday Mail has escaped censure from the Press Complaints Commission over an article headlined, ‘Sleazy Sir’s Sex Shows’, and published last August. But it didn’t get off entirely.

It follows complaints from the subject of the story, a former teacher who was engaged to, and had a child with, an ex-pupil. The article was about his performing at a club in Aberdeen.

There were complaints under four clauses of the PCC’s code of practice: clause one (accuracy), clause three (privacy), clause four (harassment) and Clause ten (clandestine devices and subterfuge).

Says the PCC: “Following an offer of remedial action by the newspaper, no further action was required under clause one (accuracy). The other complaints were not upheld.”

But the PCC said it was “disappointed” in the Sunday Mail agreeing to certain wording in a letter to be published in the paper, about the accuracy part of the complaint, only for it to later change its mind about what it should comprise – which the complainant was unhappy about.

Adds the PCC: “The Commission considered that the offer of a letter – and the final text put forward by the newspaper – was a proportionate and adequate response to [the accuracy] part of the complaint. That said, the Commission was disappointed with the manner in which the newspaper had approached the negotiations on how to resolve the matter. It had agreed a wording for the letter that would have satisfied the complainant only for it to retract the offer for no particular reason once the complainant agreed to it. This was highly unusual.

“The Commission – which has only recently censured the paper for bad practice in relation to its handling of another case (here) – does not expect this approach to be repeated. But as the revised offer still covered the points under dispute, the Commission considered that no further action on the complaint under Clause 1 would be necessary.”

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