Irvine cuts up rough over Times meat tale

Former News International executive Jack Irvine has taken The Times to the Press Complaints Commission claiming that a writer for the paper failed to declare a conflict of interest.

Angered: Jack Irvine

Irvine is now executive chairman of PR company Media House and has made the complaint on behalf of Thornfield Developments over an article by Marcus Binney about the proposed redevelopment of Smithfield meat market in London.

Irvine claims The Times should have declared somewhere in the piece that Binney is a member of SAVE – a heritage group which is one of the main objectors to the development.

In the 900-word comment article of August 23 Binney argued strongly against the proposed demolition of the General Market to allow the redevelopment of Smithfield.

Irvine, who was MD of News International in Scotland, said: “One of the nuances of the whole affair is that I have picked up very strong resentment that a former Sun man is giving The Thunderer a lesson on journalistic ethics. Indeed I would say they’re extremely pissed off about it.”

He said in one exchange, a Times journalist suggested Irvine could use the skills he had picked up working for the Sun in Scotland to write a more concise letter for inclusion in the paper. And he described The Times’ overall attitude as “snotty”.

In his letter to the PCC Irvine said: “The most worrying aspect was that the writer, Mr Marcus Binney, failed to reveal he has an intimate involvement with SAVE Britain’s Heritage, one of the chief opponents of the development.”

Irvine claims The Times did not take his initial complaint seriously and that a member of his staff was told: “Newspapers get complaints every day and unless you’re going to sue us it doesn’t faze us one bit.”

Irvine says The Times offered to print an edited version of a letter he sent them which did not mention Binney’s involvement with SAVE.

He claims the Binney piece breached section one of the Code of Practice which forbids newspapers from publishing “inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”.

The Times had not commented as Press Gazette went to press.

By Dominic Ponsford

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