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Unpleasant coincidences plus a mix up on dates leads results in eerily similar columns

The Daily Mail has issued a correction, (or possibly a clarification) regarding last month's column by Petronella Wyatt in which she told how her mother was knocked over by a cyclist twice in a month, suffering a broken arm in the first incident, and how one of Petronella's friends had stifled laughter on hearing the news; to top things off the unfortunate Ms Wyatt also had her bag snatched by bicycle riding bandits.

Some readers of that piece pointed out that much of it bore a striking similarity to an earlier column written by Ms Wyatt in February 2010 recounting how her mother had been hit by a cyclist and suffered a broken arm, and how an insensitive friend of Petronella's had stifled a laugh when told the news. Some even wondered if the second column was merely a re-hash of the first.

After a month of sleuthing the Mail's Correction's and Clarifications team today reported that it was all a silly mistake on the part of a no doubt over-worked sub-editor.

An article on September 9 said the writer Petronella Wyatt’s mother had accidents with cyclists twice in a month and Miss Wyatt had her handbag snatched by a gang on bicycles in 2012. In fact there was an editing mistake and the snatch actually occurred in 2008. Miss Wyatt had previously mentioned it in a similar article in 2010 about her mother being struck by a cyclist at that time.

So, now that's all clear it was just a set of unpleasant coincidences leading someone to edit Ms Wyatt's words in to coincidentally similar columns and it only remains to wish Ms Wyatt's mother a full recovery and to observe that Ms Wyatt has some rather unpleasant friends.

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.

18 comments

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southstar [11 posts] 3 years ago
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Quelle suprise.

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phax71 [287 posts] 3 years ago
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Life is a MATRIX, lies, lies and more lies ...

Do not believe anything that you cannot see with your own eyes as you are deceived daily ..

Roll on the Tory Conference for more of the same ..

Jaded, moi???

You betcha ..

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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how ridiculous this whole thing is, why is it even 'news' I don't know.

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vexedveloist [8 posts] 3 years ago
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"...and to observe that Ms Wyatt has some rather unpleasant friends"

I have a suspicion her friends have the worst end of the deal.

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crikey [1252 posts] 3 years ago
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Even her patents weren't that keen on her; Petronella? FFS..

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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She got off easy. Her brother's called Pericles. (Quite a nice bloke actually).

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handlebarcam [654 posts] 3 years ago
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The solution to this problem is obvious: ban Daily Mail sub-editors. Or at least make them pay more tax, and wear a license plate.

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notfastenough [3685 posts] 3 years ago
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@Crikey and Rumpo Kid - that's nothing, the other brother is called Perineum.

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therevokid [948 posts] 3 years ago
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and hi-viz and helmets .....  1

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Shanghaied [46 posts] 3 years ago
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So there's basically no editorial controll between incompetent Daily Mail sub-editors and the printing press. Finally, some kind of explanation.

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Paul M [360 posts] 3 years ago
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Shanghaied wrote:

So there's basically no editorial controll between incompetent Daily Mail sub-editors and the printing press. Finally, some kind of explanation.

I am wondering whether the misspell above is accidental. If not, it is very witty.

I registered a complaint with the PCC over the second article, as by the sound of it did quite a few others. Haven't had a response yet, but I await it with interest.

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notfastenough [3685 posts] 3 years ago
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So regardless of the oh-sorry-we-plucked-a-4-year-old-word-file-from-nowhere-and-edited-it-into-a-current-piece handbag snatch, PW still claims that:

- Her mother was hit by cyclists twice in a month
- Doesn't mention that it happened previously, even though she has a previous article to reference
- Another (or the same?) friend showed the same odd smirk-changing-to-concern expression
- It doesn't occur to her that this happened last time as well

 39 Yeah, that sounds true. Wonder if they've only backed down on the bit that could be exposed via a Police incident record?

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Lacticlegs [124 posts] 3 years ago
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So Petronella is a lying, mendacious, scumbag journalist trying to stir up anti-cyclist sentiments and she isn't concerned about the truth while she does it...and she works for The Daily Mail...

Seems pretty normal to me. I honestly can't understand why the Daily Mail still exists - everyone I know slates it as the worst 'paper' there is - full of hatred, bile and only a casual relationship with the truth...but who the hell is buying it?? Someone out there (many someones in fact) must be keeping it in business...or is this one of those 'secret pleasure' things - we all hate it but have to have it?

It would be bad enough if 'Pettie' really did believe that all cyclists' behaviour could be extrapolated from the incident with her Mother (assuming, of course, that it DID did actually happen at some point)...it's so much worse that she is recycling old news stories and inventing extras to try to paint a picture for the general public. What is wrong with these people? Professional hater? What a career... Very sad.

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alronald [58 posts] 3 years ago
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Another trip for their Editor to the Leveson Inquiry about Press Standards methinks. Surely making up facts to fit the story you want to write is, to say the least, unethical

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 3 years ago
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So does this mean her column is ghosted now?

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thelawnet [3 posts] 3 years ago
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So this followed my complaint to the PCC.

I pointed out the articles' similarity, and they replied that there were three incidents. I said that this was so unlikely as to be untrue, and then they replied with the supposed dates of hospital treatments.

They then offered to print the following clarification.

"An article on September 9 said the writer Petronella Wyatt had her handbag stolen by a gang of youths on bicycles in 2012. In fact there was an editing mistake and the incident actually occurred in 2008, as Miss Wyatt wrote in a previous article in 2010. Her mother has been hurt in three incidents involving cyclists"

I pointed out that this made no sense unless you had cross-referenced both articles, which most readers would not do, and suggested the following:

“On x February 2010 the Mail published an article by Petronella Wyatt describing her mother being knocked down by a bicycle. On September 9 2012 the Mail On Sunday published a very similar article by Petronella Wyatt about her mother being knocked down by a bicycle twice, in 2012. We would like to clarify that there were in fact three separate incidents, one in 2010, and two in 2012. In addition, there was an editing mistake in the 2012 article, stating that Miss Wyatt had been mugged in 2012. In fact this incident occurred in 2008, as stated in the previous article.”

They preferred their own wording, now published....

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InvisibleVisibleMan [26 posts] 3 years ago
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I am a newspaper reporter (not, I hasten to add, for the Daily Mail or anything as remotely appalling) and keen cyclist, who writes the Invisible Visible Man blog (http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/). I'm nothing like as surprised by others at the level of sub-editor involvement in the column. The Mail (and the Express) are both known as "subs' papers," where the power resides with the sub-editors, rather than the writers. There is a tendency for the subs to rip stories up and start all over again, far more than at other papers. That's why the Mail is so successful at imposing its Weltanschauung on pretty much every story. But it can also lead the stories to wander rather far from what most people would regard as the truth...

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Tour Le Tour [87 posts] 3 years ago
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Unbelievable. I mean, not just the articles, but also the PCC response. Simply Unbelievable.