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Watchdog warnings — use sparingly

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Today I and most other hacks in town got a warning from IPSO, the press watchdog.

A celebrity couple is upset about pictures of their new home, feeling them to be a burglar’s guide.

The rules are such that we aren’t even supposed to name the couple or say they’ve complained. On this occasion, I think they’ve got a point.

But IPSO complaints should be used sparingly. Too often they come on the back of a vague rumour that appeared in a diary column.

Blimey, thinks everyone on Fleet Street, we didn’t think that was true until we got the IPSO warning. Let’s get stuck in.

The only IPSO complaint I received personally came on the back of a minor error and a foolish flak.

The flak could have had the correction his client merited had he just asked politely. Instead, he went into full bully mode and I dug my heels in.

He got his correction, sort of. But somehow or other, a bunch of other hacks got interested in the story.

And the very thing he didn’t want to see repeated appeared in three other major newspapers.

I might say that taught him a lesson. In truth, I think he couldn’t figure out what had happened to him.

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