SCOTTISH journalist and broadcaster Duncan Campbell has broken new ground by winning an apology from the Broadcasting Complaints Commission over a Channel 4 documentary on the so-called Fettesgate scandal.
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The Scotsman newspaper will be asked to carry the apology tomorrow over its role in publishing some of the attack on the award-winning reporter.
A break-in at Lothian Police headquarters was a legitimate ground for journalistic investigation.
In doing so Mr Campbell reported the activities of criminal Derek Donaldson and as a consequence was seriously beaten up. Donaldson went to jail for the attack.
Nevertheless, Donaldson appealed to the BCC that Mr Campbell had been unfair to him and had infringed his privacy. The BCC upheld that complaint.
Campaigning journalist Campbell wrote an article in Broadcast magazine defending his role. Incensed, the BCC's secretary, Mr Robert Hargreaves, wrote an article in reply and some of his remarks were published in the Scotsman.
The comments made by Mr Hargreaves were at the heart of a libel action that has now been settled out of court.
In an agreed statement between the parties, it is made clear that Mr Campbell was entitled to attack criticisms of him by the BCC.
In addition, the BCC will admit that Mr Hargreaves's article in reply wrongly suggested that Mr Campbell was connected to criminals interviewed in the programme.
The apology will go on to say: ``The commission also accept that it was wrong for the article to have suggested that Mr Campbell attempted to eavesdrop on Mr Donaldson's telephone conversations.
``The article repeated critical comments about Mr Campbell's alleged conduct towards him and his mother going beyond what could be supported by the commission's findings in their adjudication.''
The BCC will say in its apology that the article was not intended to be an attack on Mr Campbell's sincerity or his integrity as a campaigning journalist and that the commission regretted a contrary impression that might have been given.
Mr Campbell said last night: ``The most astonishing thing is it got to this stage. It took a court case to get BCC to admit that criminal violence was wrong.''