Sunday World rapped by PCC over inaccuracies

A complaint that Sunday World in Northern Ireland was inaccurate in articles containing allegations about a woman’s relationship with a Sinn Fein member of the Province’s Assembly has been upheld by the Press Complaints Commission.

Angela Foran complained that two articles in the newspaper were inaccurate.

One, headlined “Sinn Fein MLA dumps wife for Brit army general’s daughter”, appeared in the newspaper on 27 January last year, and the other, headlined “Love rat McHugh dumped by Brit lover”, on 10 August last year.

The stories claimed that Foran was the daughter of a British Army General who had links to the intelligence services, that she had had an affair with Sinn Fein MLA Gerry McHugh, and suggested that the affair led to the breakdown of McHugh’s marriage and resignation from the party.

Foran said McHugh had not left his wife to “shack up” with her, and denied having caused the breakdown of his marriage, saying the relationship happened long after McHugh and his wife had separated.

Her father had done national service in the Army, but did not reach the rank of general and had not worked in the security services.

The newspaper stood by the accuracy of the central allegation of the affair.

It said the information about Foran’s father stemmed from Foran herself as part of an earlier story, together with its own security sources.

Foran said she had never mentioned her father when speaking previously to the newspaper.

The PCC said: “Although the complainant had not denied having a relationship with Mr McHugh, she had denied two significant aspects of the coverage: the claim that Mr McHugh had left his wife for her, and the assertion that her father had been a General in the British Army who worked in the intelligence services.

“Neither of these points had been satisfactorily corroborated, and the paper had not offered to publish a correction.

“There was therefore a breach of clause one of the code, and this part of the complaint was upheld.”

The Commission did not uphold two further complaints from Foran.

On her claim that photographs of her, for which she had voluntarily posed for a previous article, were misleadingly edited, it said it did not think that cropping the images in this way would have misled readers.

On her complaint that the articles intruded into her private life in breach of Clause 3, covering privacy, the PCC said that in the context of a story which connected her relationship to McHugh’s resignation, it did not consider that referring to the existence of the relationship – which appeared to have been made public by the pair attending a number of events together – raised a breach of the Code, particularly when there were no private details about anything that happened within the relationship.

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