PCC upholds complaint over accusations of lesbian affair

The Press Complaints Commission has upheld a complaint against the Isle of Wight County Press ruling that an article it wrote about a man who attacked his girlfriend’s lesbian lover was inaccurate.

The newspaper reported as fact the man’s mitigation for attacking the complainant Leila Mahmoud. He claimed he had discovered his girlfriend and Mahmoud were having an affair, accusations Mahmoud insisted were unfounded.

According to the PCC, both the headline and the first paragraph in the County Press had presented the man’s allegations as fact but this had been presented in court as mitigation.

A later report had told of the girlfriend’s refusal of her boyfriend’s “disgusting and embarrassing allegations, which caused her family to question her sexuality”.

The County Press refused to publish the complainant’s letter which denied her boyfriend’s allegations, on the basis it lacked legal privilege and could have left the newspaper open to defamation charges.

The County Press argued that it had reported accurately what was said in court. The commission agreed the paper’s editor had not been responsible for the inaccuracy of what was said in court but ruled that the paper had not clearly distinguished between conjecture and fact, breaching Clause 1 of the code (accuracy).

The code in this case related to how proceedings are reported, not to the comments that were made during the case.

In other news, the editorial director of the National Magazine Company, Lindsay Nicholson, has been appointed to sit on the PCC board following the retirement of former Now magazine editor Jane Ennis. She takes up her new role from 1 November 2007.

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