ForArgyll in full retreat over ‘damaging’ Dunoon Observer story
October 3, 2011
FREE READ EXCLUSIVE:
A LOCAL news website which falsely claimed that a 140-year-old Dunoon business was on the brink of collapse has been forced into a humiliating climb down.
ForArgyll.com said the Dunoon Observer weekly newspaper was in danger of folding before the end of 2011.
But the website has now admitted that it failed to put the closure claim to the paper’s parent company, E&R Inglis Limited, before publishing the story.
And it conceded that the article – which suggested the paper was in peril because Inglis’ commercial printing operation was struggling – had no basis in fact, and had been “damaging”.
In a full apology ForArgyll said: “The content of this article was not checked with E&R Inglis Limited…and the article contained several inaccuracies…”
But the unchecked story remained on the ForArgyll website for a full week before it was finally spiked – despite E&R Inglis demanding a retraction the day after it first appeared.
ForArgyll blamed the delay on two e-mails from E&R Inglis’ lawyers, Stewart and Bennett, being “trapped in our ‘spam tray’ and therefore not known to us”.
But the website insisted in its statement: “We have withdrawn the article in question, without hesitation. We offer a genuine apology to the Dunoon Observer.
“E&R Inglis Limited have confirmed that the company remains profitable, and any assertion that it is in immediate danger of failing is incorrect.”
ForArgyll had also claimed that the Oban Times newspaper group was “getting ready to make a modest offer” for the Dunoon Observer. But the under-fire website – which was bombarded with scores of online complaints about the story – admits that this statement was also “not based on fact”.
E&R Inglis has hit out at ForArgyll’s actions, saying in a statement: “The allegations made are not only inaccurate, but irresponsible and potentially damaging to a long-established Argyll family company.”
The firm said: “We are very disappointed that ForArgyll failed to contact us before publishing this article.
“The company has introduced a number of measures in response to the current economic climate, in common with many other businesses in the region.
“The company is in a good trading position and will survive the current recession. A business plan, including substantial investment in new printing equipment, is in place to enable E&R Inglis to come out stronger on the other side.”
E&R Inglis and the Dunoon Observer today declined to comment further on the matter.
The paper’s editor Colin Cameron told CowalCourier.com: “E&R Inglis has dealt with this matter through the appropriate channels. A full retraction and apology has been published by the website concerned.”
ForArgyll said: “We would like to apologise unreservedly for any upset and damage to the business reputation of the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard and E&R Inglis Limited.”