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Friday, 31 July 2009

The Sun Still Besmirching Ron Smith

UPDATE, 5th August 2009: We're pleased to report that since this story was first published, The Sun appears to have removed the offending story referred to from its web site (see news story). We have left this report live for archival purposes...

Back in June, The Sun - Britain's top-selling newspaper - reported on the opening of the trial of 80-year-old comics artist and former Spitfire pilot Ron Smith who had, as it turned out, been wrongfully accused of rape and indecent assault.

Rather than publish anything, at downthetubes we chose to await the outcome of the trial.

Mr Smith was, to his many fans' delight, unanimously cleared of all charges made against him by the jury and therefore we felt this story deserved no coverage.

Commenting on the trial Ron's daughter, Sue Carr subsequently told fans she was relieved that her father’s innocence had been proved and that his name had been cleared.

"It has been a very, very difficult time for him," she said, "and it's been a great comfort for him to learn that his many fans have been behind him in this simply dreadful matter.”

Unfortunately, although the result in favour of Ron was widely reported online and in comic circles, it has not been covered by The Sun, unless it chosen not to publish a story reporting the outcome of the trial online but only in print. Instead it has kept the original story, unchanged on its web site (5th August 2009 update: story now removed, see news story), with a link title that perpetuates the totally untrue allegations against Mr Smith.

Here at downthetubes we have to wonder: why is The Sun perpetuating this totally false story about Ron Smith? Why does its actual link title effectively repeat the disproved allegation made against him? And why has The Sun chosen not to update its original story to report the outcome of the trial?

Ron has a huge number of fans who were deeply upset by these false allegations but, despite writing to the paper we have not had an explanation for what of course may be simple but very unpleasant oversight.

The Sun story can still be found online without update and gives a totally false impression of a highly regarded artist. We think this is wrong, immoral and, despite the careful wording of the article itself potentially libellous, simply because of the link construction.

UPDATE, 5th August 2009: The Sun appears to have removed its story from their web site. See news story

• Michael Molcher comments on the reporting of the trial in the wider context of modern journalism here. Joe Gordon at the Forbidden Planet International blog comments on that here


Mark said...

Anything to do with the fact that he drew the Dredd strips that ran in THE STAR for all those years?

Paul Rainey said...

Thanks for letting us know about this. I totally understand why you decided not to cover it on Down The Tubes originally. I posted entries on The Prog Slog Blog over those days and regretted it. Once you start you’re obliged to see it through to the end, I think. After a few days and the trial had finished I removed them, which seemed the sensible thing to do. I’ve been very cross at The Sun’s apparent non-coverage of Ron Smith’s proven innocence but to learn that the original, seedy little piece The Sun ran is still online for anyone to read is scandalous. Email about to be sent.

John Freeman said...

Some people have copied me in on emails sent to The Sun about this -- keep up the pressure, folks!

Richmond A Clements said...

Thanks to the guy who started this: http://2000adonline.com/forum/index.php/topic,25721.0/topicseen.html

John Freeman said...

Fantastic work by Ron's loyal fans!

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