Lt Gen Sir Michael Willcocks
c/o PCC - - - - -
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD
23 June 2011
e mail: independentreviewer@pcc.org.uk

Dear Sir

Request for a Review of the PCC's Decision 'Gray v The Guardian'
(13/06/2011)
C
omplaint No: 112125
Complaint against the Guardian and Journalist Jon Robins

In the first instance I must make it clear I asked only for a 'correction' to an article published incorrectly by the Guardian, I had followed the rules of the article 'correction' requests believing that this would be done expediently but for six weeks and twelve emails I was ignored which forced me into making a complaint to the PCC where I would quickly, in the eyes of the Guardian and the PCC, became a villain, it may be because what the Guardian had published about me and the name of my website I was discriminated against by the Commission. Surely readers of the Guardian should expect the system for corrections requests of articles should be operational at all times, as per their 'Code of Conduct', and should not have to enter into a battle where the PCC simply say; "It accepted the newspaper's explanation that a genuine human error had resulted in an oversight and remained satisfied that the action - taken on the day the complaint was received via the PCC- represented a sufficient remedy to the complaint under clause 1 (ii)"

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.

The Commission said "on the day the complaint was received via the PCC" which was the 9th May is in fact a distortion of the truth because the 30th March, six weeks previous, was the day the Guardian received a request from me for a correction to an article and repeated fifteen days later which automated replies showed that they were received. I will repeat a few words from Codes of Practice "honesty", "accuracy", "fairness", "errors" and just hope someone amongst the Commission has some vague idea of their meaning, although of course we do know they understand 'human error' that was put forward as an excuse by the Guardian.

As most people know 'human errors' in one form or another are the reasons for most complaints being made, so if the defence is "that a genuine human error had resulted in an oversight" for whatever the complaints is/was about then no 'complaint' would ever succeed and there is no need for a 'rule' book.

The true pattern of events leading from a request to a complaint.
On the 30 March I came across an article by Jon Robins in the Guardian that was accusing me (my website) of defamatory content against many law firms and stating that there were five convictions against me and some fifteen pending. I was disturbed by this but knowing of Mr Kordowski, named as the owner of my website, I quickly realised the Journalist had confused two websites, for which in fact there was no excuse when he states about his company "We also draw on an in-house team of specialist researchers and communications experts". How did Jon Robins and so many people make such a basic mistake? However, as the article had only been there a few days, I straight away sent emails to six relevant email boxes, as in the case of Jon Robins the Guardian rule states;

Errors- It is the policy of the Guardian to correct significant errors as soon as possible. Journalists have a duty to cooperate frankly and openly with the Readers Editor and to report errors to her. All Journalists should read both daily and weekly column.

No problem here, the Journalist must know the rules of the paper he writes for, also if the Guardian had misprinted the domain address it should have been spotted by the Journalist and corrected because the rule states "Journalists should read both daily and weekly column".

I was confident my emails to the Journalist and his company (3) also cc'd to the Guardian(3) on the 30th March would be dealt with promptly for their rules stated "It is the Guardian's policy to correct significant errors as soon as possible". I received their automated reply that stated "...the automated response: we use it so that you have confirmation that the office of the Guardian readers' editor has received your email" so didn't expect any problems least of all when I repeated the process fifteen days later sending two of the six emails direct to the Guardian, bearing in mind I had only asked for a correction and a simple apology.

From Saturday 16th April I was away from home and returned on Tuesday 3rd May and found, to my horror, that the article had spread worldwide, the Search Engines were full of it and I'm branded by the Guardian and followed by others, the "Website that has become the scourge of all lawyers, good and bad".

On the 4th May I found a complaint could be made to the Press Complaints Commission, which I duly did the same day. The Commission informed the Guardian on the 9th May which now prompted them into action, this is what I had expected and should have been done 40 days previously on 30th March when I had expected and believed the Guardian would have honoured their own code of conduct.

In the 'Codes' of practice I note several words to which importance is given; "fairness", "transparency", "honesty", "accuracy", "errors", "corrections" and "It is essential that an agreed code be honoured not only to the letter but in the full spirit".
In the Commission's decision they attach great importance to the emails sent by me saying all were only cc'd to the Guardian, obviously there was little interest in having their "accuracy" right. The first email on the 30th March was sent to the Journalist and cc'd to all others;
To: jon@jures.co.uk;
Cc: letters@guardian.co.uk; letters@observer.co.uk; reader@guardian.co.uk; info@jures.co.uk; gus@jures.co.uk;
Above under 'Errors' it states "Journalists have a duty to cooperate frankly and openly with the Readers Editor and to report errors to her", I didn't make these rules but the PCC are responsible for them being "honoured not only to the letter but in the full spirit".

On the 15th April the first two of the second six emails were sent direct to the Guardian and one cc'd to the sister paper still just seeking a correction to a publication by the Guardian;
To: reader@guardian.co.uk; letters@guardian.co.uk;
Cc: letters@observer.co.uk; jon@jures.co.uk; (Jon Robins) gus@jures.co.uk; (Gus Sellitto) info@jures.co.uk;
The Guardian and the Observer generated automated replies to both sets of emails "confirmation that the office of the Guardian readers' editor has received your email". By now it was reasonable to expect a "correction" would be imminent. In the Commission's decision they patted the Guardian on the back for their 'prompt' action when my "formal complaint was passed to the newspaper via the PCC" on the 9th May almost six weeks after the Guardian had actually received my 'formal' request for a correction, the delay allowed the situation to spiral out of control. The Readers Editor, Chris Eliot, admitted receiving the emails of the 30th March and the 15th April also being aware of their content but thought "the issues were more complex and thought I would return to it". Chris Eliot has, I believe, recently stepped into the boots of Readers Editor; maybe his predecessor's boots were too big for him.

The PCC received three emails from the Guardian, one from the Readers Editor and two from Elisabeth Ribbans, Managing Editor. If you read the various reasons and/or excuses given, some of which are hard to believe, the fact is the rules were not complied with and clearly, by not following the rules, the real reasons simply amount to 'negligence' and 'incompetence' of a failure to comply and honour their code of practice(s).

Let me quote from the Commission's decision; "It accepted the newspaper's explanation that genuine human error had resulted in an oversight..." I have looked through every rule I can find and there is not one rule called 'human error', it's not mentioned, listed, referred to, there is no appendix which relates to it, it just isn't there. The nearest I get is from Elisabeth Ribbans, Guardian's Managing Editor, in her email to the PCC on the 18th May "this was simply human error" (which is a nice way of saying they had been 'negligent and incompetent') and from this the Commission have inserted this new 'rule' (human error) into the present set of rules and from now on 'human error' will be "honoured not only to the letter but in the full spirit". Out the window goes THE EDITORS' CODE of PRACTICE because the new 'one size fits all' rule will, from now on, mean any Editor who claims "this was simply human error" is a good enough excuse for the Guardian and others to be exonerated from whatever is thrown at them in the future.
The Press Complaints Commission (PCC)
2. The primary role of the PCC is to handle
complaints, by administering and upholding a
Code of Practice.

The 'decision'
"The failure to respond to a direct complaint was, of course, regrettable "
, "the inaccuracy could have been corrected sooner" and "genuine human error had resulted in an oversight". Can you just hear a Barrister putting forward a defence like that in the High Court for some criminal or other; the Judge would fall off his chair laughing and the newspapers would laugh their socks off and turn it into the legal joke of the decade?

I have enclosed copies of two letters from my ex-solicitors who are wagging their tails so hard their arses are falling off. They have become so confused by the Guardian's hash-up of just what website is what anymore and they now believe my .com website belongs to Mr Kordowski who is going to be sued, on behalf of some 950+ law firms that are listed on Mr Kordowski's website, by the Law Society. Very confusing but then again when a supposedly intelligent firm of solicitors has become confused by the Guardian's erroneous publication that was allowed to get out of hand I suppose most other readers of the internet news media will have also. I have written and tried to explain but they are adamant the .com website is going to be prosecuted allowing them to hide their anonymity behind others, what a shock they are heading for.
My first reply to TBW dated 6 June; http://www.solicitorsfromhell.com/tos-tbw1.htm
My second reply to TBW dated 14 June; http://www.solicitorsfromhell.com/tos-tbw2.htm

The Internet is still profusely littered with traces of the allegations the Guardian made and so let me quote what Judge Jones said to Mr Kordowski "But traces of the allegations remained on search engines after" his attempts to remove all of the offending article(s). If the Guardian had acted expediently to my first email on the 30 March any damage would have been limited, even the emails fifteen days later would still have curtailed the damage but by six weeks it had run out of control and these 'traces' will remain there for years.

My thoughts:
Bearing in mind Elisabeth Ribbans', Managing Director, excuse; "The failure to do so in this case was simply due to the high volume of correspondence and investigations during this period, and we apologise to Mr Gray for the oversight".

If I'm driving at 60mph through a 30mph zone busily chatting and sending texts on my phone and I accidently jump a red traffic light causing a serious accident, when I go to Court I explain my actions to the Judge and say I didn't think I was speeding and I thought the red light was actually green as I was busy on my phone which "was simply due to the high volume of" texts etc. "during that period" and "this was simply human error and in no way a conscious decision to ignore" a red light. The Judge; yes I can see you were extremely busy at the time of the accident causing you to ignore all the rules but you had in fact made a "human error" so I will exonerate you from all blame and I find the other party to the accident guilty of wrong doing for obeying the road traffic acts and making outrageous allegations against you I also award all costs in your favour. I wonder if anyone would be surprised if I rushed up and kissed the Judge or would anyone be anymore surprised if the Judge and the 'Red-light Jumper' belonged to the same 'Lodge'?

My final thought:
Is it a Complaints Procedure or a 'Protection Racket'?- It doesn't appear to act like a Complaints Procedure!
If it looks like a mouse, sounds like a mouse and acts like a mouse then obviously it must be a mouse.

Yours faithfully

Brian R Gray

PS I have no problem with the Guardian or any other media writing an article about my website but I would expect them to bear in mind these words; "fairness", "transparency", "honesty", "accuracy" which fall within the Codes of Practice also they should note there is no list of law firms on my website as described by the Guardian and never has been.