PRESS COMPLAINTS COMMISSION THROWS OUT COMPLAINTS BY FAKE SCOTS BARRISTER
But Thai authorities fail to catch on
The Press Complaints Commission has ruled that a Scottish newspaper was acting in the public interest by quoting from a video showing a fake barrister saying: “Perverts! I am making so much money (from them) like there’s no tomorrow”.
The video was obtained by Andrew Drummond (of this site) who had quoted from it in a story to the newspaper last year.
It showed how Brian Goudie boasted making cash out of child sexual cases in Pattaya, Thailand, while falsely claiming to be a British barrister and a former officer in the Royal Marines.
“The Committee was satisfied that their publication formed part of the Public Interest, and noted the newspaper’s position that the video would be admissible as evidence in court. The Committee was therefore unable to establish a breach of Clause 3 or Clause 10,” the PCC ruled.
A complaint made by Goudie that he was being harassed by journalist Andrew Drummond was also rejected.
“There was no suggestion that, in obtaining information for the article under complaint, the journalist had engaged in harassment. There was therefore no breach of Clause 4,” the PCC ruled.
And a third complaint that the Daily Record had failed to remedy a complaint that the newspaper stated that Goudie had been charged with fraud, as opposed to the fact that Scottish police had issued a warrant for his arrest on a charge of defrauding the Royal Bank of Scotland, was also rejected.
The Daily Record had corrected the matter with the statement: “Following the article above we have been asked to make clear that Mr Goudie was not charged with fraud in Scotland. A warrant was issued for his arrest but this was later cancelled.”
The warrant had to be cancelled as all three accused had fled to Australia and the costs of extradition would have been unreasonable as the amount on the fraud charge was only in the region of £93,000.
AN ARREST WARRANT WAS ISSUED FOR GOUDIE BY SCOTTISH POLICE!
Goudie had claimed that no arrest warrant had ever been issued – but it was clear from a judgment of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal that it had – and Goudie had refused to answer to it.
Sufficient remedial action was taken ruled the PCC.
“he Committee was therefore satisfied that the correction offered by the publication did not contain inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (i). It noted that the correction had addressed the inaccuracies in the original article was therefore sufficient to remedy the breach and to address the newspaper’s obligations.”
On his site CasewatchAsia.Blogspot.com Goudie has claimed a victory in his case with the Press Complaints Commission, the forerunner to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
He states almost laughably: “This decision by IPSO today merely serves to confirm what I have said all along which is that Andrew Drummond does not write accurately then refuses to correct his errors’.
Lawyers for Goudie in Bangkok today said they would now consider whether or not the editor of the Scottish Daily Record and Drummond could be jointly prosecuted under the provisions of Thailand’s tough Computer Crimes Act.
The full judgment is below:
CLAUSES NOTED: 1, 3, 4, 10
PUBLICATION: Daily Record
Brian Goudie was concerned about an article which reported criminal proceedings against him in Thailand. He said that this had contained an inaccuracy, in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, and information obtained using a clandestine recording device, in his private residence, in breach of Clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge) and Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Code.
The complainant was further concerned that publication of the article formed part of what he considered to be a campaign of harassment against him by a freelance journalist, and that this breached Clause 4 (Harassment of the Editors’ Code of Practice).
The complaint was made to the Press Complaints Commission, prior to the transition to IPSO, but over two months since first publication of the article. However, as the article continued to be published online, the Complaints Committee was able to consider the complaint in relation to the online article only, in line with PCC procedures.
Sufficient remedial action offered
The Committee first considered the complainant’s concern that, in inaccurately stating that he had been charged with an offence of fraud in Scotland, the newspaper had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, which states that “the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”, and that “a significant inaccuracy once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence”. The Committee considered that, given the availability of a letter from the Crown Office in support of the complainant’s position, this error constituted a failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information in breach of Clause 1 (i), and that the inaccuracy was significant so as to merit a correction in line with the terms of Clause 1 (ii). The newspaper had offered to publish the following correction:
“Following the article above we have been asked to make clear that Mr Goudie was not charged with fraud in Scotland. A warrant was issued for his arrest but this was later cancelled”.
The complainant did not consider the correction to be a suitable remedy, stating that no arrest warrant had ever been issued. The Committee noted that the letter from the Crown Office which the complainant provided in support of this issue remained silent on whether a warrant had been issued.
The newspaper was entitled to rely on the decision of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Goldie and Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, which referred to the arrest warrant issued in Scotland.
While the complainant wished to make clear that this judgment had been over-turned, the Committee noted that this was on procedural grounds, and that the subsequent judgment did not state that an arrest warrant had not in fact been issued.
The Committee was therefore satisfied that the correction offered by the publication did not contain inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (i). It noted that the correction had addressed the inaccuracies in the original article was therefore sufficient to remedy the breach and to address the newspaper’s obligations under 1 (ii). The correction should now be published.
The Committee then considered the complainant’s concern that, in publishing quotations taken from a video of the complainant obtained by a hidden camera in his private residence, the newspaper had breached Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge) of the Editors’ Code.
The Committee noted the complainant’s concern, but acknowledged the newspaper’s position that the video had not been obtained by a journalist or for news-gathering purposes. Rather, it had been obtained by a man, and his associates, who were suing the complainant for embezzlement.
The newspaper was not responsible for the way in which the footage had been obtained, and indeed had not sought to obtain it. No footage from the video had been used in the article; rather it had included a quote which the journalist had obtained when he had been shown the video by those who obtained it, who wished to demonstrate the complainant’s attitude towards his clients. The publication had relied on a Public Interest defence to justify publication.
The Public Interest section of the Code “includes, but is not confined to: i) Detecting or exposing crime or serious impropriety”, and can be used as an exception to what may otherwise be breaches of Clauses 3 or 10. Given the nature of the complainant’s comments, that he had said, “Perverts. I am making so much money (from them). It’s like there is no tomorrow,” the Committee was satisfied that their publication formed part of the Public Interest, and noted the newspaper’s position that the video would be admissible as evidence in court. The Committee was therefore unable to establish a breach of Clause 3 or Clause 10.
The complainant was further concerned that the newspaper had breached Clause 4 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, as he stated that the freelance journalist who had provided the copy was engaged in a campaign of internet harassment against the complainant having published 94 articles about the complainant on his own news site online. Clause 4 states that “the press must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit”.
The Committee made clear that the newspaper was only responsible for the conduct of the journalist in relation to the story which it had published, and could not be held accountable for articles which he published on other news-sources. There was no suggestion that, in obtaining information for the article under complaint, the journalist had engaged in harassment. There was therefore no breach of Clause 4.
I am of course delighted with the PCC, now IPSO, ruling. Its just a pity that it took so long for the Australian authorities to catch up with this sleazebag – and as for the Thai authorities and courts – they are in a completely different world.