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Parents of murdered schoolgirl condemn 'malicious lies' in press

Margaret and James Watson addressed the Leveson Inquiry about the way the death of their daughter was reported in the Glasgow Herald.

Leveson Inquiry: Diane Watson's parents gave evidence

The parents of a schoolgirl stabbed to death in a playground attack in Glasgow have claimed journalists' reports were "malicious lies".

Diane Watson, 16, was stabbed to death in 1991 following a row at Whitehill Secondary School in Dennistoun, Glasgow. Fifteen-year-old Barbara Glover was later jailed for the killing.

Margaret and James Watson's only other child, 16-year-old Alan, took his life in December 1992. He was found dead with clippings of articles from the then Glasgow Herald newspaper and Marie Clare magazine about his sister.

The articles, published in 1992, were identified by Mrs Watson as being "misreporting" and "malicious lies" that portrayed her dead daughter being a bully, during her evidence to the Leveson Inquiry that is being held in London.

She told Tuesday's hearing in London: "Just because someone has died, there reputation should not die with them. It should not be besmirched by some sick journalist."

Mrs Watson also told the inquiry that she faced severe difficulties in meeting with the Herald's journalist Jack McLean over the article, while she never received an apology for the coverage.

Before the conclusion of their evidence, Mr Watson made a statement to the inquiry criticising the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and calling for the body to be replaced.

He said: "We strongly feel that the PCC 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."

Prime Minister David Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry in July in response to the revelation that the News of the World commissioned private investigator Glen Mulcaire to hack into the phone of murdered schoolgirl.

Following the evidence, The Herald & Times Group, which publishes The Herald, issued a statement saying the company was "committed to the highest quality of journalism and accuracy in its reporting and analysis and adheres to the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct".

It added: "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."

Marie Clare released a statement in response to the evidence given by the Watsons at Tuesday’s hearing.

It read: "Mrs Watson refers to an article published in Marie Claire in September 1992 about British children serving life sentences.

"A subsequent meeting with Mrs Watson led Marie Claire to publish a clarification in April 1993, apologising clearly for the family’s distress as a result of the original article and explaining the background to the sources used.

"That clarification was understood at the time to have settled the matter to the satisfaction of all parties. Marie Claire regrets the grief that the Watson family has suffered following its bereavements, and had no intention of contributing to that grief."

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