Ombud rules against Dexter in M&G complaint
Johannesburg - Former Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Phillip Dexter on Tuesday lost a bid to have the Press Ombudsman rule against the Mail & Guardian newspaper.
"The newspaper has generously offered to give Dexter a right of reply and he may use this offer to set the record straight. I do not accept his request for a retraction and apology," said Joe Thloloe in his ruling after considering written submissions from both parties.
Dexter approached the ombudsman after the newspaper published an article in January headlined: "Desperate Dexter says Cope is Kaput".
The story detailed how Dexter was joining "a long list of party leaders who have left the party over its alleged maladministration".
Dexter then argued that he had not told the journalist that he had had a "falling out" with Cope president Mosioua Lekota, but the newspaper had chosen not to publish this response.
The article also implied a link between what he claimed were his "financial problems" and his resignation from Cope, Dexter argued.
In response to the complaint the editor, Nic Dawes, conceded that the specific denial had not been recorded in the story and that it was clearly an oversight the paper would be happy to correct.
"Dexter's hard, clear denial of a falling out was not recorded, but his alternative explanations for leaving were fully ventilated," said Dawes at the time.
With regards to the financial problem complaint, Dawes said Dexter had posted a plea on social networking site Facebook for financial assistance to continue fighting a prolonged divorce battle.
"And [the reporter] put it to him again, that questions were being raised about his willingness to give up his MP's salary at a time of apparent financial distress," Dawes wrote.
"His response is recorded in some detail. To wit, he said it was 'totally wrong' to link his 'financial need and political need' and added 'I left my position for principled reasons. Surely you are not suggesting that I should sit and get paid to lie to the voters?'"