Editors row over hotelier's quote

By Claire Burbidge and Kevin O’Donovan

A row has broken out between two newspapers in Bristol over the alleged lifting of a quote.

The argument concerns an interview — labelled "exclusive" — with Peel Hotels group chairman Robert Peel in the weekly Clifton Chronicle. Speaking about the withdrawal of a planning application, he said: "I hope this action demonstrates that I am listening and do care — it’s just a question of balance."

When the same quote appeared in the Bristol Evening Post the next day, the Chronicle’s publisher and editor, Stan Szecowka, emailed the Post’s editor-in-chief, Mike Norton, seeking an explanation.

Norton replied that the complaint was unfounded and that the quote had also appeared in a press release.

Press Gazette has seen a copy of the press release, which reads: "We have listened carefully to the arguments put forward by the residents of Clifton, English Heritage and the Bristol City Council conservation advisory panel and thought it would be in the best interests of all concerned to withdraw these two applications."

Szecowka said: "As journalists you make the effort of getting your own quotes, you just don’t lift them from someone else. It’s lazy."

Norton admitted in an email to Szecowka that "the exact quote did reflect the one used in the Clifton Chronicle", but told Press Gazette: "I’m surprised Mr Szecowka is getting irate.

Despite claims that it was an exclusive interview, this was not the case. Mr Peel was very happy for the Post to run with the story."

Szecowka — who launched his paper after being axed as deputy of the Post when Norton was made editor-in-chief — said he was considering legal action.

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