PCC raps Burton Mail for inaccurate crash story

The Burton Mail has had to apologise for an article headlined "Hold-ups after coach crash" which the Press Complaints Commission ruled breached clause one of the Editors' Code of Practice, accuracy.

The paper reported that traffic in a Derbyshire town had been held up after a coach owned by Bagnall Coaches collided with a car.

A complainant said the language implied the coach driver had been at fault, but the coach had been stationary when hit by the car. The Mail said the story had been based on information supplied by the police.

The paper claims to have apologised to the complainant over the phone, which was accepted, but the complainant denied having received the apology.

Journalists on the paper were warned by the editor to be cautious when using the words "to collide", but he would not publish an apology in the paper because too much time had passed since the original story appeared.

The PCC said it was surprised that the editor would not settle the matter, as most complaints of this kind are dealt with amicably and rarely reach the formal adjudication stage.

It said the inaccuracy in the story was clearly misleading. Although the Mail was given the information from a third party, clause one of the code clearly states that "a significant inaccuracy… once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence".

Because the editor did not comply with the requirement, the paper was in breach of the code. He had sent the complainant a written apology, but no apology appeared in the paper.

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