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Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday Times Defies Press Complaints Commission

Paper Notifies Media Oversight Agency that it Will Not Remove from its Website False Stories about MMR and Dr. Andrew Wakefield

(Austin, Texas) – The Sunday Times of London, a Rupert Murdoch News Corporation paper, has defied direction from the UK’s Press Complaints Commission (PCC) to remove from its web site controversial stories it has failed to substantiate, which allege Dr. Andrew Wakefield “fixed” data relating to the MMR vaccine. The reports by correspondent Brian Deer are the subject of an extensive complaint filed with the PCC by Wakefield.

The PCC last week issued an unpublished directive that the stories be removed (see below). They were taken down immediately, unannounced, but the Sunday Times has now defied the PCC by putting the stories back online after complaining Dr. Wakefield publicly announced the PCC’s directive.

Stephen Abell, Deputy Director of the PCC, wrote in his unpublished directive,

Given the ongoing nature of the dispute, the articles should be removed from the newspaper’s website until this matter has been concluded.”

The Sunday Times has an obligation to “cooperate swiftly” with the PCC in the resolution of complaints under the UK’s PCC Code, which states it is “the cornerstone of the system of self-regulation to which the UK [press] industry has made a binding commitment.” The PCC is a non-statutory self-regulatory body run by the press.

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