Scots parents attack ‘sick journalism’ in reporting of daughter’s death

AN inqury into press standards heard criticism today of the reporting, 20 years ago, of the fatal stabbing of a girl in a Glasgow school playground, which was then followed by the girl’s brother taking his own life.

Margaret and James Watson were speaking today at the Leveson Inquiry. In 1992, the tragedy of their daughter, Diane, having been stabbed to death the previous year was compounded when their son, Alan, committed suicide.

It is claimed he was found dead holding clippings regarding his sister’s death from the then Glasgow Herald and also Marie Claire magazine.

Mrs Watson is quoted on saying, today: “Just because someone has died, their reputation should not die with them. It should not be besmirched by some sick journalist.”

She was referring to reporting suggesting her daughter might have provoked the girl who was to then go on to kill her.

The BBC quotes Mrs Watson criticising the way her daughter’s case became used to “spearhead a campaign” into the treatment of young offenders. She is further quoted, as saying: “Journalists should have all the facts and not cause other tragedies to take place.”

Mr Watson is also quoted, saying: “We strongly feel that the [Press Complaints Commission] is paid for by the newspapers that published false misleading articles about our dear murdered daughter, Diane.

“Sadly, the malicious falsehoods were too much for our son Alan, who died with these articles in his hand. We feel that the PCC should be replaced by a completely independent body or tribunal who should go over the complaints in person.”

In a statement, The Herald publisher said: “The Herald & Times Group, which publishes The Herald, is committed to the highest quality of journalism and accuracy in its reporting and analysis and adheres to the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct.

“Comments critical of Herald columns published after the 1991 murder of 16 year-old Glasgow schoolgirl Diane Watson were made at today’s Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press.

“The Herald & Times Group deeply regrets any action which added to the Watson family’s grief over the tragic loss of their daughter and later their son. The columns were published some 20 years ago when the group was under different ownership and editorial control and the freelance columnist involved has not worked for the company for some years.”

Watch the inquiry live, here.