PCC rule that Evening Standard Burzysnki article did not breach the Editors’ Code

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.

Related articles

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

10 responses to “PCC rule that Evening Standard Burzysnki article did not breach the Editors’ Code

  1. The PCC is a running, festering joke.

  2. It already seems clear that the PCC, at least in its present form, will not be long for this world if Lord Justice Leveson has his way. This sort of la-la-la fatuity (also see their response to @dianthusmedical) can surely only hasten its demise.

  3. Perhaps you should forward the response from the PCC to the Leveson Inquiry? I’m sure one of the things they’re looking at is whether the PCC is capable of regulating the press. This does seem to be pretty impressive evidence that they’re not. I’ve forwarded my PCC response (re the Observer article) to them, and I dare say if they see it’s a pattern rather than a one-off it will make the point more strongly.

    • I’ve just added a link to your post on the PCC/Observer response that in my haste to publish, I failed to include last night.

      I similarly also failed to include much detail on my own reaction to the ruling. As I said, due to my lack of faith in them, I’m not surprised that the PCC ruled that there was no breach of the Code. But I’m still appalled that they seemed to fail to look into my complaint in any depth. I could pick their ruling apart in detail but I don’t have the time at the moment.

      I’ll gather my thoughts over the weekend and will probably send something on to the Leveson inquiry early next week.

  4. Pingback: Burzynski blogs: My Master List | Josephine Jones

  5. I have just forwarded the PCC response to the Leveson Inquiry together with some background information on my complaint.

  6. Pingback: If the media care about Burzynski’s patients they must pull their heads out of the sand | Josephine Jones

  7. Pingback: The 21st Floor » Blog Archive » Burzynski: A media scandal

  8. Pingback: An appalling ‘alkaline’ diet plug in the Mail on Sunday | Josephine Jones

  9. Pingback: The Evening Standard fail to address my concerns about the Burzynski clinic – will the PCC act on this? | Josephine Jones

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