Scotland Today rapped over unfair murder report

Ofcom has found that Scotland Today unfairly treated a woman who it said should have the death of a man killed by her boyfriend “on her conscience”.

The edition of Scotland Today in question reported the sentencing of James Kerr for the murder of Thomas Nicoll. The report stated that Kerr had targeted Nicoll after hearing “false rumours” that his victim had sexually abused his girlfriend when she was a child.

The programme said that the police had found the allegations of sexual abuse to be untrue and added that the girlfriend should have the death ‘on her conscience”.

Ofcom upheld a complaint by a Mrs B that even though her daughter, Ms A, was not named in the programme, she had been unfairly treated as the programme did not provide any material to prove that the police had found the claims of sexual abuse untrue.

Mrs B claimed that the reason police had not pursued Ms A’s allegations of abuse against Nicoll was that they had not found sufficient evidence for a prosecution as the alleged abuse happened so long ago.

In response STV accepted that the news report could have described the allegations as ‘unfounded’rather than ‘untrue”, and apologised for any upset.

Ofcom ruled that the programme led the viewer to conclude that Ms A had fabricated the abuse claim, and was therefore was in part responsible for the murder of Nicoll, saying that ‘the programme’s presentation of this very serious allegation was unfair.’

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