The background to my complaint is here.
I already had little faith in the Press Complaints Commission as an effective regulator so it didn’t particularly surprise me that they failed to agree that there were several (indeed any) inaccuracies.
Incidentally, the title of the piece was “Cancer girl’s £130,000 plea for life-saving operation in US“.
The full text of the PCC ruling (25/01/12) is below.
The complainant considered that the article contained several inaccuracies.
The Commission considered the complaint under the terms of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code, which states that the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information. The Commission acknowledged the position of the complainant, however, whilst the complainant was entitled to be critical of the Burzynski Clinic and its procedures, the newspaper was entitled to report the story. The Commission noted that the complainant considered the article was misleading regarding the procedures and medical efficacy of the treatment at the Burzynski Clinic, however, the article had included criticism of the clinic from groups including Cancer Research that the clinic’s treatment was unproven. While it acknowledged the complainant’s position it was satisfied that the article would not mislead readers in such a way as to constitute a breach of Clause 1 (i) of the Code.
In addition, it was the complainant’s position that the article had contained several inaccuracies regarding the treatment that Miss Cloete had undergone. The Commission made clear that while it considers all complaints regarding points of fact; it could not, in this instance, pursue the matter further without the involvement of the directly affected first parties. The doctors or the family of Miss Cloete were the correct parties to complain regarding any alleged inaccuracies pertaining to Miss Cloete’s current treatment. This is for reasons of co-operation, information and consent: often it will not be possible to come to a view under the Code without the input of a directly affected first party. In addition, any remedial action as a result of the complaint – or any decision issued by the Commission – would require consent. The Commission considered that in order to be in a position to make a ruling under the Code, it would require further information regarding the treatment that Miss Cloete had undergone. It had to have regard to the fact that Miss Cloete’s doctors or family members were the best placed parties to provide such information. In the circumstances, the Commission did not consider it could comment further on this aspect of the complaint.
Furthermore, the complainant had raised concerns over the legality of the article, given that it was illegal to advertise alternative cancer treatments within the UK. However, the Commission made clear that issues of alleged illegality fell outside of its remit, and as such, it could not comment on the matter further.
The Commission did not establish a breach of the Code.
The Evening Standard fail to address my concerns about the Burzynski clinic – will the PCC act on this? Josephine Jones, 22/12/11
Following a similar complaint, the PCC have also ruled that an article in the Observer relating to the Burzysnski Clinic was not in breach of the PCC Code:
Burzynski Clinic in the Observer: PCC response Adam Jacobs, Dianthus Medical Blog, 27/01/12