The Press Complaints Commission today upheld a complaint against the Newham Recorder after it inaccurately reported that a murdered man had acted aggressively on the day of his death.
The mother of Rizwan Yousaf complained that the paper said he had visited his landlord and upset his wife ‘with his aggressive demands”. The claim was made by the defence in court and the paper showed the PCC its reporter’s notes but CCTV footage apparently showed Yousaf ringing a doorbell and walking away. The Recorder said the footage was inconclusive.
The commission said that in an earlier version of the reporter’s copy the word ‘allegedly’was put before the claim that Yousaf was aggressive – a word which disappeared in later versions – and the PCC said it should have remained to clear the article under clause on.
The PCC said in its adjudication: ‘It was regrettable that a dispute about a small part of the article could not have been resolved at an early stage in a proportionate way. The complaint rested on the newspaper’s statement that, during a visit to his landlord’s house, the complainant’s son had ‘upset the landlord’s wife with his aggressive demands’. The complainant objected that this was presented as established fact in the text of the newspaper’s summary of the case, whereas in fact it was just a defence claim.
‘As it was not clear from the evidence that it had been accepted as fact by the court that Mr Yousaf had upset the woman – for instance, in the judge’s summing up – the Commission considered that the qualification of the word ‘allegedly’ should have been retained in the published article. Omitting it led to a failure to distinguish comment from fact adequately, and a breach of the Code.’