Dec 15, 2011

Daily Mail Editor-in-Chief responds directly to SU President

Dear Mr Bartlett

I am responding to your letter asking for an apology for the story which ran in the Irish Mail on Sunday which you posted on your website (but which has not yet arrived in my office).

Let me first be clear that as soon as this appalling error came to light, we ran an unequivocal apology in the Irish Daily Mail. It was positioned prominently on the news story we ran about Mr Mulrooney in Tuesday’s paper. So it is important to note that at the time the union passed a motion to request an apology, one had already appeared. This was not because anybody asked for it, but because it was clearly the right thing to do.

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The apology will run again in this weekend’s Irish Mail on Sunday, on page 8 (where the incorrect story appeared) or earlier.

As we acknowledged in the apology, Sunday’s report that Mr Mulrooney’s body had been found was wrong. We deeply regret that it appeared and have since done everything we can think of to atone for the error.

On Saturday, there had been several reports from friends and associates of Mr Mulrooney that his body had been recovered. An article to this effect was prepared and checks with Gardai were made. Our reporter was then told by the garda that the information was incorrect. She consequently told our newsdesk that the story was not right and the search for Mr Mulrooney was on-going. When the Irish Mail on Sunday was going to press, and because of inadequate communication that the story was wrong, the first story was used.

There have been several inferences, including on the University Times website, that this story was somehow invented in this office for circulation advantage. I cannot stress too strongly that this is utterly wrong. There is nobody here who invents stories, and there is nobody here who would behave in such a callous and crass manner. I am very proud of the standards our papers maintain.

In this case we clearly fell well below those standards and are carrying out a detailed investigation to ensure that such a mistake does not happen again. The story should not have even been filed without proper confirmation, and the internal communication that it was incorrect should have been foolproof. I can assure you that we will put right the failings that caused this incorrect report to appear.

I am sorry that this error has caused upset and, on behalf of the newspaper, I want to express my sincerest apologies to you and any students who felt rightly aggrieved.

We have also personally made contact, through an intermediary, with Mr Mulrooney’s father to express our deepest regrets and our apologies to the family. In addition, on Tuesday we offered all of the services at our disposal to help in the search for Mr Mulrooney although of course that is sadly no longer needed. Our managing director immediately travelled to Cork to see if there was anything else we could do.

Both I and the Editor of the Irish Mail on Sunday have responded personally to any emails we have received. Had I received your letter, you would have had a response before now. As you know, as soon as your letter came to light on your website, you received a call from our marketing manager to explain the situation in detail, and what we had already done in terms of an apology.

I hope that our actions will go some way to meeting the concerns of the Mulrooney family and of you and your union. If there is anything else you or indeed any of the other students think we could do, please write to me personally. Once again, our apologies for this deeply regrettable incident.

Yours sincerely

Eric Bailey
Editor in Chief
Associated Newspapers Ireland

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