We blogged about the “thrown-off the bus for breastfeeding” incident that occurred on a Stagecoach bus last month – it seems most likely to have been a made-up incident as the CCTV evidence disputed the accusations. You may have missed the opinion piece in last week’s Route One trade press magazine by Steve Stewart, the Director of Communications for Stagecoach Group, which gave a bit more background into the story from the bus operator’s view. After receiving a phone call from a Manchester Evening News reporter on Friday 6th August, the company began an investigation.
When a review of CCTV footage showed no such incident… we contacted the newspaper and explained the position. Without passing judgement, we informed them of [similar unfounded allegations in Bristol] and asked for any further details they could provide. At the same time, we stressed it would be unfair to run any story without any documentary evidence, particularly in view of the events in Bristol some months earlier.
We contacted the MEN and offered them the opportunity to view the CCTV footage. The reporter who viewed the video evidence told us it clearly showed the alleged incident did not happen. However, while the MEN story the next day carried the line that we had cleared our driver, readers were not told that the MEN had viewed the actual CCTV footage and that their story was wrong. Instead, it repeated the mother’s original claims. Their justification was that it was not their place to say who was right and who was wrong!
Mr. Stewart goes on to point out that these photos by a freelance photographer entitled “Buses bad for babies” (Thursday 5th August, 1320hrs), one of which was used with the original story, appear to have been posted to the blog three hours before the alleged incident took place – though as ever, the published date can be manually amended. He finishes with three points, correct at time of press:
- There has been no contact from any legal firm acting on behalf of the mother
- The mother has not taken up the company’s offer of viewing the footage for herself and their calls have gone unreturned
- The driver has not received a public or personal apology from the MEN for questioning his character