Huddersfield Examiner breached rules with “bomb” headline

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

The Huddersfield Examiner has to publish a correction after it was found to have breached editorial standards.

The ruling followed an article headlined: Boffin, 71, made bombs for hobby, which was published in November last year.

The front page story was based on a court report, where the complainant pleaded guilty to 2 counts of making explosive substances.

David Taylor, a retired chemical analyst reported the paper to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, saying the article was inaccurate.

The piece stated that he had avoided jail after making “an explosive of the type used in the 7/7 bombings” adding that the court had heard that he had made them “as a ‘hobby’”.

The prosecutor was quoted as saying that the chemicals were “unstable and cause serious damage and harm if they do indeed explode…they are obviously dangerous”.

The article also appeared online, with the headline: “Boffin made bombs of the type used in 7/7 attacks – for a hobby.”

However, Taylor had never been accused or convicted of making bombs. He also said that it was misleading to say he made bombs, similar to the type used in the 7/7 bombings, as these attacks involved several kilos of explosives, and he had prepared only 5g of explosive.

He also stated that the explosive was stable in its pure form and therefore did not pose the risk suggested. The police and court also accepted that there was no “bomb-making” and that his interest was purely in chemistry and firework-making. The police described the evidence as“prepared pyrotechnics”.

The newspaper denied that it had breached the code, but conceded that the term “bomb” was never used in court. It argued that the explosives the complainant made were described as major components of a bomb, and were disposed of in a controlled explosion.

It also provided videos showing the explosive effect of 5g of HMTD to indicate that even this small quantity could cause serious damage. However, the publication did not dispute that the explosives had been intended for use in fireworks, and offered, as a gesture of goodwill, to amend the online headline to: Boffin made fireworks using chemicals found in 7/7 bombings – for a hobby.

The committee upheld the complaint and ordered the Examiner to publish a page 2 correction in print and also in the top section of its homepage for a period of 24 hours.