'Inaccurate' blog breached press code

Britain's media watchdog has for the first time ruled against a blog, announcing that statements of fact in online diaries must be able to be substantiated if challenged.

The Press Complaints Commission said a journalistic entry by Rod Liddle for the Spectator magazine breached its code of practice when it was published in December.

The offending piece claimed that "the overwhelming majority" of street crime in London "is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community."

A number of the blog's readers took issue with Mr Liddle's claim and posted follow-up comments, while one complained to the commission, prompting its investigation.

For the PCC, this proves that the nature of a blog is often provocative though, in this case, its publisher was unable to demonstrate that the claim was accurate.

The Spectator was also unable to argue that the claim was merely the columnist's opinion - rather, it was put as a statement of fact, and one which was not corrected.

PCC added: "There is plenty of room for robust opinions, views and commentary but statements of fact must still be substantiated if and when they are disputed.

"And if substantiation isn't possible, there should be proper correction by the newspaper or magazine in question."

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