PCC rejects claim by PRO that local press was biased

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint against two papers in Stoke-on-Trent by the PR consultant to locally-based tycoon John Caudwell.

The Sentinel and The Sentinel on Sunday were accused by Caudwell’s PR consultant, Iain Macauley, of a persecution campaign, but the PCC found no breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Both Macauley and the papers’ editor, Sean Dooley, this week refused to call a truce to their stand-off, which includes a policy by Macauley of refusing to talk to the papers’ journalists.

Despite the PCC decision, Macauley this week insisted the two papers were ‘not being reasonable’ with their coverage of Caudwell – who founded The Caudwell Group, Europe’s largest independent mobile telecoms firm – and that he wanted to see an ‘attitude change’ at the paper.

Dooley defended his papers’ coverage, saying: ‘I think he [Macauley] believes that because Caudwell is putting so much money into the local economy he deserves special treatment.’

‘Very few PROs would use his [Macauley’s] argument. John is a major employer locally but we retain the right to be independent,’ said Dooley, adding: ‘This is one of those silly situations.’

Retailer Phones4U is one part of Caudwell’s business empire.

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