November 27 2017 – Accuracy and “On reading and seeing what is not there” – Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday


Peter Hitchens

“….When I attempted to make a formal complaint about their handling of their error, to the Guardian ‘Readers’ Editor’, it was at first ignored. I had to send it several times before I received a snotty response more or less telling me that it was my own fault if people misunderstood what I said.  This is a tenable position in a pub argument, though not a good or respectable one in a national newspaper,  and I do not think the Guardian would much like it if others applied the same rule to its own pages. It certainly doesn’t accord with C.P. Scott’s immortal dictum that facts are sacred. But given the Guardian’s adherence to the old Press Complaints Commission code, which is against inaccuracy,  it doesn’t deal with the real problem, which is that the Guardian published something inaccurate about me and hasn’t properly regretted it or corrected it.

Here’s what the code says :

1 Accuracy i) The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures. ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. iii) The press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.’

I shall pursue this as far as I can. I am not optimistic, after The Guardian’s shocking refusal (I took this to the very limit) to acknowledge any error in declaring Bishop George Bell a child abuser in October 2015 when all it had to go on was a pretty sketchy allegation. Yet it wrote:

However, in this case, it is beyond doubt that the Guardian claims that I wrote something I did not write, whereas in the Bell case it had no hard legal obligation – only a moral one, since Bell was deceased – to distinguish between an allegation and a proven charge. ‘Only’ a moral obligation?  Well, you know what I mean.

The problems in both cases could have been avoided if those involved had read their material more carefully.

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