One of the laughingstocks of the News Corp. scandal in Britain is the country’s “independent” Press Complaints Commission. Twice it issued reports minimizing the phone-hacking scandal at News of the World, even going so far as to chide the Guardian for its “dramatic billing” of the affair.
It does better when matters aren’t so complicated. Like when they involve straightfoward issues of anatomy. Here’s an excerpt from a case in which the complainant took issue with the Daily Telegraph’s crime coverage:
Mr Richard Davies complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article headlined “British woman confessed to being a ‘monster’, her murder trial hears”, published in The Daily Telegraph on 11 January 2010, was inaccurate and misleading...
The complainant’s daughter, Jessica Davies, had been convicted of the murder of Olivier Mugnier at Versailles Criminal Court in January 2010....The complainant said that the report was inaccurate when it stated that his daughter had “slit” Mr Mugnier’s “throat”. This was not the case and the indictment did not say this.
The newspaper said that its coverage as a whole had identified the location of the wound as both Mr Mugnier’s “thorax” and his “throat”. While the Prosecution had used the technical term “thorax”, it was clear that the actual area described was the throat or neck. In court evidence, Ms Davies had stated that - when on the telephone to the emergency services - she had “one hand on the receiver, the other pressed to his [Mr Mugnier’s] throat”. The French word “gorge” had been used.
The complainant said that the wound was well below the neck, which was a different part of the body to the thorax. He provided a letter from his daughter’s solicitors regarding the location of the wound.
Bearing in mind the full circumstances of the case, and the facts that were not in dispute involving the death of Mr Mugnier, the Commission did not consider that this point required correction or clarification.