UK news outlet reported cause of death when there wasn't one yet - iMediaEthics

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A local UK newspaper, the Cumbria Mail, reported that on the death of a local man, suggesting he died by suicide. But that wasn’t the case.

Regardless of the inaccurate implication, the UK press regulator dismissed a complaint by the deceased’s brother.

The deceased’s brother, Peter Edwards, complained about the March article, which quoted a local politician grouping his brother’s death with that of six recent suicides, and saying the deceased “suspectedly” took his life.

iMediaEthics has written to the Mail.

Edwards told the UK press regulator Independent Press Standards Organisation the claim of suicide was inaccurate because there wasn’t a cause of death or explanation for his brother’s death yet.

The Cumbria Mail defended its story as in the public interest and based on “at least four local sources,” according to IPSO. The Mail also told the Cumbria police it was planning on identifying the deceased by name and as a death by suicide and the police didn’t correct the reporter. Despite the family’s disputing the claim, the Mail argued its article was fine because it didn’t say the cause of death was an “established fact,” IPSO reported.

That said, after receiving a complaint about the article, the Mail did delete the politician’s comments and removed any references to mental health. The Mail also published a clarification because it turned out the police said they didn’t mean to confirm the cause of death. That clarification says:

“The Mail would like to clarify that Mr Edwards’ death is being treated as unexplained by the police. There is no suggestion he has taken his own life. An inquest to establish the cause of death will be held at a later fate. The Mail would like to apologise to Mr Edwards’ family for any upset caused.”

IPSO rejected the complaint, saying the Mail took the “appropriate” steps in reporting, even if the police gave bad information. Further, IPSO ruled the Mail handled the clarification properly.

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UK news outlet reported cause of death when there wasn’t one yet

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