Lt Gen Sir Michael Willcocks
c/o PCC - Ms Tonia Milton - - -
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD

Dear Ms Milton

Complaint No: 112125
Complaint against the Guardian and Journalist Jon Robins

On the 13th June (should read 23 June) I sent an appeal to Sir Michael Wilcocks which you acknowledged on the 28th, you then sent me a letter on the 22nd July saying Sir Michael "...is still carefully considering the issues you raised", nine weeks have now passed which seems an excessive amount of time for the 'Review' to be completed.

In the PCC 's 'Decision' they patted the Guardian on the back for their 'quick' response and in fact looked at their six weeks of ignoring me and the belated, inadequate effort by them as "Sufficient Remedial Action" (see enclosure (1)) which was strengthened with the Letters Editor's "genuine human error" and now part of the PCC's Editors' Code of Practice 'Repertoire'. As the www is still profusely littered with the false allegations against me that I complained of, let me again quote what Judge Jones said to Mr Kordowski "But traces of the allegations remained on search engines after..." Please see enclosures (2) for a small sample of the many "traces" still on the Internet which it appears Judge Jones' opinion would be the Guardian remains at fault for.

I would like to quote from the PCC's website;
. . . Resolved
. . . A complaint is deemed to be resolved when the PCC has been able to negotiate a resolution with the publication concerned that is
. . . satisfactory to the complainant.

That seems very clear, but I don't remember having negotiated a "resolution with the publication" that was "satisfactory". I do remember the 'Commission' deciding in their wisdom that the Letters Editor had made a "genuine human error" and of course "The failure to respond to a direct complaint was, of course, regrettable..." which "the Commission trust that steps would be taken where possible to avoid similar oversights in future" and the reason being "that a genuine human error had resulted in an oversight". It's clear the Guardian had been 'negligent' and 'incompetent' which the Commission put the label of 'regrettable' upon it. It sounds, to me, like the Guardian employed the Commission on a 'No Win No Fee' basis.

Of course with 'Self Regulation' you make your own rules and then on the spur of the moment add in new ones, 'human error', that won't be found in any of the rule books including the fact a six week delay/being ignored by the Guardian the Commission consider "The Commission was pleased to note that on 9 May...action - taken on the day the complaint was received via the PCC - represented a sufficient remedy to the complaint under Clause 1 (ii)". The 'Commission Team' very conveniently forgot my six emails on the 30 March which automated replies showed the Guardian, the Observer, the Journalist and others had received them. The Commission say in their 'Decision' "Clause 1 (ii) states that a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence". Please help me out with the word 'promptly'! On one hand the PCC say you should "receive a reply within a week", so one would assume your complaint would have been acted upon 'promptly' "within a week", then when the Guardian took six weeks to react, and then only when prompted by the PCC, the Commission now believe six weeks is now the definition of 'promptly', very confusing.

As I have made an 'Appeal' to the Reviewer 'Lt Gen Sir Michael Wilcocks' because I had not had a "satisfactory" "resolution with the publication" how can the PCC publish on their website the issue has been 'resolved'?
. . . 25 May Rebecca Hales passed the website's complaint to the Commission for assessment.
. . . 1 June on the PCC's website it states 'Sufficient Remedial Action' (see enclosure (1)).
. . . 13 June Rebecca Hales emails me with the 'Decision' 12 days after it was entered on the PCC's website.
. . . 23 June I send a letter of appeal to the Reviewer 'Lt Gen Sir Michael Wilcocks'
It's clear the PCC is telling the www of the Commission's 'Decision' twelve days before I, the website owner, was informed. Now that's what's called "(ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published". But who reads the 'EDITORS' CODE OF PRACTICE', certainly not the 'Commission' Members. A "satisfactory resolution with the publication" clearly was not "negotiated" to be "satisfactory to the complainant" and as you see 12 days was just wiped off the 30 day time scale allowed to make an appeal before I was informed and that could have been costly for me.

The Guardian's Managing Editor did, belatedly, apologise for confusing the two websites which should not have happened, let me again quote Mr Justice Tugendhat in the conviction of Mr Kordowski (the owner/author of the website the Guardian got confused with mine) "... you are a publisher and anyway you didn't take reasonable care in relation to the publication". What the Managing Editor did not even bother doing was to make an apology for publishing false accusations and defamatory content against my Domain name and stating there were five convictions against me and some fifteen pending including bestowing the title of "The scourge of all lawyers, good and bad" upon my website which is inaccurate and unwarranted.

You will be aware of the statement below that is printed on the PCC's website;

Remember too that editors are often happy to deal with complaints directly. You may, therefore, like to try a direct approach before considering a formal complaint to the PCC. Any such approach should be made promptly. If you do not receive a reply within a week - or if you are dissatisfied by the editor's response - please write to us as soon as possible.

If the Journalist, the Readers Editor and the Managing Editor 'happily' ignore twelve emails, how the hell do you make "a direct approach before considering a formal complaint to the PCC", not only that but even though the Commission Members are aware of this they covered it all up and what do they come up with "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)". Now come on "taken on the day the complaint was received" which just happened to be six weeks after I had followed the PCC's advice in trying to contact the Newspaper with a total of twelve emails even though the Commission expects Editors to respond within a week "If you do not receive a reply within a week...write to us as soon as possible".

I have previously made this point if the reason(s) the Commission has 'stepped' outside of its rule book is because of the name of my website, their dislike of its content or myself it would, I believe, amount to discrimination, the Commission job is to abide by the rules, enforce the rules and ensure that the Newspapers "honoured not only to the letter but in the full spirit" of the EDITORS' CODE OF PRACTICE and put aside any likes or dislikes of the person(s) making a complaint. If it is considered by the Commission in any way that the content of my website contains 'defamatory' content that they object to, let me remind them of part of the last paragraph of their 'Decision' "as defamation is a legal matter, it was not able to comment further". This is stated on the PCC's website and of course it is for the individual(s) to pursue through the legal channels as in the case of Rick Kordowski, owner/author of the website solicitorsfromhell.co.uk, by the Law Society on behalf numerous law firms;
. . . There are some things we don't deal with. For example:
. . . # . . Legal or contractual matters that are dealt with more appropriately by the courts

The Journalist and the Guardian have failed to honour their own codes of practice, the PCC has stepped outside of the EDITORS' CODE OF PRACTICE which, in my opinion, makes the Commission guilty of 'Maladministration', add to that Sir Michael Wilcocks sitting on his hands for nine weeks I believe gives me the right to refer my complaint to the Ombudsman which I will be doing in the coming week.

In addition, I will consider making a complaint to the Trading Standards as the service offered by the PCC is not up to an acceptable standard that the public are led by the PCC to believe or expect it to be as it falls far short of being an adequate, unbiased service in applying and honouring their own rules. In fact I feel if the PCC were Builders more likely than not they would end up on Dominic Littlewood's TV programme 'Cowboy Builders' or even his current TV series 'Fake Britain'.

Ok, maybe I repeat myself at times but in my 74th year I cannot get my head around the PCC's rules as they appear in stark contrast with the Commissions administration of the rule book when dealing with complaints against their members of the news media, I thought the principle was for the Commission to take an 'unbiased' approach to complaints with no 'tweaking' of the rules to favour one side or the other. Oh well, maybe I don't understand the fundamental principles of 'Self Regulation'.

Yours sincerely


Brian Gray

PS Below as published by the PCC see enclosure (1): -

Monthly complaints summaries
The PCC now publish a monthly summary of all concluded complaints. This includes complaints that were found to be outside the Commission's remit; complaints that were not pursued by the complainant; and those that were found not to raise a breach of the Code of Practice, as well as those that were adjudicated or resolved (the full details of which are given in the sections above).

We know my complaint had "raise a breach of the Code of Practice" because as published in the "monthly summary" it states "Sufficient Remedial Action". Bearing in mind "A complaint is deemed to be resolved when the PCC has been able to negotiate a resolution with the publication concerned that is satisfactory to the complainant" how is it the 'Commission' decided my complaint had been "concluded" when there had been no 'negotiated resolution'???

Maladministration

Just what is maladministration? It appears it means different things to different people. The 'mal' part would indicate bad, as opposed to merely poor or useless.
A precise definition doesn't appear to exist. What the PO believes constitutes maladministration will be paramount to her eventual conclusions.
Perhaps Iain Ogilvie will be kind enough to tell us if the following, with any additions he sees fit qualify as maladministration with respect to the regulators discharging, (or not) their responsibilities:
Incompetence,
Negligence,
Inadequacy,
Inattention,
Dilatoriness,
Failing to respond,
Bad judgement,
Acting inadvertently in bad faith,
Acting knowingly in bad faith.
Clarification of how the PO will define maladministration this time and whether it will differ from the definition employed last time would be very much appreciated.