Media & PR

Press Complaints Commission upholds complaint over reporting of an MP’s expenses

Here’s the main part of the ruling against the East Kilbride News:

The complaint was made by the MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, Michael McCann. The article related to his Parliamentary expenses, which had been published following the release of the figures by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). Mr McCann argued that a claim made in the article – that his expenses “include £1150 in hotel bills to fund his trips to Westminster, while he also claims for a rented property in central London” – was misleading because it suggested that he had claimed for hotel rooms at the same time as paying rent on a property. In fact, the hotel bills were incurred before he had the property.

The Commission found the claim in the article could have misled readers into believing that the claims for hotel bills and rent were made concurrently, rather than consecutively. The newspaper should have clarified this following the complaint. It failed to do so and the result was a breach of the Code.

The newspaper published the adjudication with due prominence last Wednesday. However, in doing so, it made some minor amendments to the text and failed to publish a proper reference to the PCC in the headline. As a result, it republished the adjudication in full today.

At the time of writing, and despite the original correction being published last week, the words which caused the complaint are still on the local newspaper’s website and in fact come out higher in a search for “Michael McCann” hotel than the PCC’s ruling.

UPDATE: The story has now been pulled from the newspaper’s website, though its headline and snippet are still currently appearing in search results. However, clicking on them or on the link above now takes you to the newspaper’s front page.

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