Today apologises to Daily Mail – but not on air

By Dominic Ponsford

Bosses on the Today Programme have apologised to the Daily Mail
after a report in which presenter Ed Stourton singled it out for
criticism.

The Radio Four flagship current affairs programme was the subject of
a complaint by the tabloid after a report on a doctor who left money in
his will to pay for window cleaning at the hospital in which he died.

In an interview with Stourton, the man’s widow said her husband had acted out of a sense of gratitude to the NHS.

Stourton
said this contrasted with the impression given in some newspapers, and singled out the Daily Mail.

According
to the BBC complaints report, Stourton then misquoted the paper’s
headline in a way which “wilfully and callously” misinterpreted a dying
man’s last wishes.

The Daily Mail’s front page story, published
in August, was headlined: “To the shame of the NHS, mourners will pay
to wash off seven years’ grime and let the sunshine into cancer ward.”
But Stourton misquoted the headline as “To shame the NHS.”

The report said: “This had given an unfair and damaging impression of the Daily Mail.”

Although programme makers apologised directly to the Mail they declined to broadcast a correction.

The
BBC Editorial Complaints Unit concluded that no broadcast apology was
needed because the Today broadcast was “not so different from the
reality as to warrant a broadcast correction.”

The doctor’s widow
said her husband had wanted other patients in the hospital to enjoy
similar views from the wards that had comforted her husband during his
illness.

The bequest was to ensure that the windows by the hospital would always be cleaned to benefit fellow cancer sufferers.

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