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Guardian admits Taishi reporting false
Updated: 2005-10-18 18:01

The London-based The Guardian newspaper has apologized to its readers for a couple of reports alleging a Chinese “democracy activist being beaten to death” in South China, filed by its Shanghai-based journalist Benjamin Joffe-Walt.

Ian Mayes, The Guardian’s readers editor, wrote for the newspaper on Monday that Joffe-Walt’s report, headlined "They beat him until he was lifeless", was turned out to be "gross errors and exaggerations".

In his report, published on the front page of The Guardian on October 10, the correspondent alleged that Lu Banglie, the activist, was so injured in the beating by a mob that '”his eye (lay) out of its socket” and “the ligaments in his neck were broken”. However, Lu did not suffer serious injuries, and turned out to be in sound conditions.

Joffe-Walt has hired a driver and an interpreter, and drove to Taishi with Lu Banglie on his side, and wrote that while they approaching Taishi, Lu was pulled out of the car and severely beaten. Benjamin said he later left convinced that Lu was dead.

"He was not asked how clearly he could see the things he was reporting he had seen. At the same time Joffe-Walt failed to communicate to the (news) desk (in London)," Mayes said.

When it became clear that Mr Lu was alive and his injuries were not consistent with what had been described, relief among readers over his survival was mixed with serious concern about the grave flaws thus revealed in the report."

The Guardian has recalled Joffe-Walt to London. It also arranged for Lu to have a medical examination and scan, which revealed no serious injuries.

"I think it is true to say that they have all developed some sympathy for Joffe-Walt (for working under pressure), despite the fact that his report had threatened the credibility and integrity of the Guardian's reporting in China," the editor wrote.

Truth of the Taishi village incident: full text of questions and answers

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