The Guardian misled its readers by treating a “gonzo news release” about Jeremy Corbyn sitting on the floor of a train as a piece of journalism, according to its readers’ editor.
The original story from 16 August revealed that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had been forced to sit on the floor of a train from Newcastle to London.
He was quoted as saying: “This is a problem that many passengers face every day, commuters and long-distance travellers. Today this train is completely ram-packed.”
Virgin trains then released CCTV footage showing Corbyn walking past rows of empty seats on the service.
Now, nearly three months later, The Guardian has corrected its original story with the following footnote:
“This article was amended on 7 October 2016, following an investigation by the readers’ editor, to correct the headline and text, which originally omitted the fact that Corbyn obtained a seat about 45 minutes into the journey. Charles B Anthony is a pseudonym used by Anthony Casey, who is not a Guardian reporter. He is an active Corbyn supporter whose text, which was submitted with the video from Yannis Mendez, was partly used in the preparation of this article.”
Guardian readers’ editor Paul Chadwick said The Guardian was “told at the outset that Corbyn had obtained a seat during his journey”.
And he said: “Well after it had been established that Virgin Trains staff had organised a seat for Corbyn, the original Guardian report still had the erroneous headline “Corbyn joins seatless commuters on floor for three-hour journey”.
The Guardian has not signed up to either of the UK press regulators, instead it deals with its own complaints. Readers’ editor Chadwick said he investigated after concerns were raised by readers after the affair was exposed in Private Eye.
He reveals in his report that the story about Corybn on the train was originally turned down by Buzzfeed.