Source : 28/04/1983 Northampton Post
The results of two complaints against the Northants Post were announced by the Press Council this week.
One was rejected and the other upheld.
A man had complained to the council about a report in the Post in March 1982.
The report formed part of our investigation into the Jesus Fellowship commune at Bugbrooke.
One complaint of inaccuracy was rejected, although the Council expressed concern that the reporters notebook had not been produced. The other, that the Post broke an undertaking not to identify the mans family, was upheld.
The man's son had joined the religious sect and the Press Council said that although he was not named, the Post published sufficient information to identify him.
The Post said that the man, who believed his son had been brainwashed, planned to launch a parents association to reunite children with their families backed by the Deo Gloria Trust.
The man did not want to be named for fear of reprisals on his son, who joined the sect eight years ago. The Post published where the son studied, and had lived in one of the community houses there.
He said that, if he had time to organise a parents association, he would need advice and mentioned the Deo Gloria Trust, which helped families with relatives in religious sects.
The man complained that the Northants Post broke an undertaking that it would not identify his family, and misquoted him.
He said the Post published false information about the launch of an association for parents of members of a religious cult, knowing that this was liable to cause further distress to the parents, and make extra demands on a charitable trust.
The reporter said she did not identify the son. She gave the fathers address, where he worked, at the fathers request.
He has agreed that, if the story was used, it should state that parents needing help should contact him through the Deo Gloria Trust.
The Editor said, the mans name and address were not given.
The Northants Post had done a public service by airing the parents' complaints.
The man said the commune had identified his son from the report and this had caused strained relations.
The editor said details about the mans son were included to give the story credibility. It was office practice for notebooks to be kept.
The Press Council's adjudication was:
The editor agrees that his newspaper had undertaken not to identify the complainant's son. Without naming the young man it clearly published sufficient information to identify him to anyone who knew him.
The story could, and in view of the undertaking, should have been published without these details. This part of the complaint against the Northants Post is therefore upheld.
In the Press Council's view the reference to the possibility of starting an association for parents whose children had joined the cult was an accurate statement of the complainant's intention.
He had produced no evidence that publication of this caused further distress to parents or made extra demands on the charitable trust named. His complaint that it was liable to do so was rejected.
The Press Council is concerned that neither the newspaper nor the reporter was able to produce her notebook containing the interview. It repeats its reminder to editors to ensure that reporters' notebooks are preserved and can be produced to the Council.