Papers 'kick around complaints'

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Indy Politics
MANY newspapers' response to what appeared to be a justified complaint was to 'kick it around until you lose it', a former Mirror Group executive yesterday told the first of three cross-party parliamentary committee hearings into inaccurate reporting.

The committee is gathering information for the Freedom and Responsibility of the Press Bill, sponsored by Labour's Clive Soley. The Bill has its Second Reading at the end of January, when Sir David Calcutt is to produce his second report on press regulation.

Neil Bentley, deputy managing editor of the Daily Mirror until he retired in 1988, said newspapers could tell within 30 seconds whether a complaint was likely to stick. 'Then it goes on a long circuitous route. It's called 'kick it about until you lose it'.'

Mr Bentley was one of five 'victims' of allegedly inaccurate reporting giving evidence. He had complained over a Daily Star report about the Daily Mirror's Ethiopia Appeal.

The first 'victim' said his life was under threat because of a report saying he was in the IRA.

Other complainants included Linda Joyce (now Townley), former maid to the Princess Royal, who was wrongly accused by newspapers of stealing letters written by the Queen's Equerry, and Brendan and Teresa McKeever, who complained over a report that a cure had been found for the muscle-wasting disorder suffered by their son.