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