25 Jan PCC Complaint. The Daily Mail, 25th January 2012
“Killed by cannabis: Boy, 17, dies falling down stairs while high on skunk … and proves Sir Richard Branson is wrong about drugs”,The Daily Mail, 25-01-12
I wish to make a complaint concerning the above article which is still available online at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2091183/David-Norkett-17-dies-falling-high-skunk-proves-Richard-Branson-wrong-drugs.html
I make the complaint on my own account but also in my capacity as the Leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), a UK political party, of P.O.Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, RH1 9BN. For the purposes of correspondence, please use my personal address as below.
I make this complaint in good faith that you will honestly and fairly judge whether or not there have been breaches of the Editors’ Code. If it can be shown that commission is failing to enforce the Editors’ Code and/or distorting evidence to support the rejection of a complaint then the commission is not acting in good faith and a cause for action arises to recover damages.
1. This is a disgraceful article which is deliberately misleading and makes dreadful and exploitative use of a teenage boy’s tragic death for the shameful purpose of advancing the newspaper’s own mendacious campaign against cannabis. Both the journalist, Eleanor Harding, and the editor(s) concerned have failed miserably in their duty to maintain the highest professional standards in accordance with the Editors’ Code. I call on the commission to censure these individuals by name in the strongest possible terms and for a front page apology.
2. The article breaches clause 1.i) of the code in that it publishes inaccurate, misleading and distorted information.
3. It also breaches clause 1.iii) in that it fails to distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
4. It also breaches clause 5.i) in that it fails to handle publication of this story sensitively. In fact it amounts to cruel harassment of David Norkett’s family. The commission should call for the journalist, Eleanor Harding, and editor(s) concerned to be summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.
5. The article is presented as a news piece . It should therefore be concerned only with facts except where comment or conjecture is clearly distinguished as such. However, even if clearly distinguished, the Independent Reviewer has already ruled (21-07-11 letter to Peter Reynolds) that a comment “should not be published if it is based on an inaccuracy or misleading statement”.
6. This complaint needs to be seen in the context of the Daily Mail’s systematic campaign over many years of misinformation, dishonesty, falsification and distortion of evidence concerning cannabis. To date the commission has failed to rein in these activities at all or to make any attempt to do so.
7. The headline starts “Killed by cannabis…” however later in the article the coroner is quoted as saying: “The awful events that took David’s life weren’t directly related to the fact he had taken cannabis…”. This amounts to a monstrous deception on readers and a clear intent to manipulate the practice of the commission to resist complaints concerning headlines alone. It is absolutely clear that the intent of this article is to deceive and mislead.
I would be grateful if you would deal with this complaint at your earliest convenience. I shall be happy to provide any further information required or to give oral evidence in support.