The article appeared in today’s edition of the Sunday World newspaper. It made a number of false assertions not only about the recent death of Gary Matthews, but also about the death 5 years ago of a 16 year old child.
The double page piece, headlined on the front page, sought to intrude into the grief of the distraught family who have been left heartbroken by the malicious, inaccurate and unjustifiable article carried in today’s paper.
Despite the unjustified intrusion into the families grief, the statement claims that there was no attempt to contact the family or the mother of the deceased child prior to publication either to seek their permission, fact check the story or simply warn the family of what was to be published about their loved ones.
Unionist Voice has republished the full statement issued by the family via social media and to all media outlets via the medium of East Belfast Community Initiative.
Statement on behalf of the Matthews family:
The below statement has been issued by the Matthews family following a hurtful and unjustified intrusion into the families grief following the death of a much loved and cherished family member.
“We as a family are sickened and disgusted by the appalling story carried in today’s Sunday World under the name of a journalist Patricia Devlin.
“We have never heard of this woman and she made no attempt whatsoever to contact any member of our family, or the family of young Kenan. It is beyond unethical that this story would be published without any attempt to contact us or even having the decency to let our family know this was to be printed.
“The story at times reads almost as if the author is gloating over the tragic death of our cherished loved ones. We have had to try this morning to keep the paper away from elderly members of our family who are already struggling to come to terms with our loss.
“Press standards are clear that there should never be an unnecessary intrusion into a families grief, unless there is an overwhelming public interest.
“Young Gary was not a public figure and simply referring to the identity of his uncle is not enough to justify a heartless intrusion into our time of sadness and the gross invasion of our privacy as a grieving family.
“We would also point out the story is factually and wildly incorrect. Kenan, who sadly passed away five years ago, died after pain relief he had taken following a serious fall caused an asthma reaction to a ventolin patch he had on.
“He was only 16 at the time therefore we are absolutely astounded that his mother or wider family would not have been contacted prior to publishing a false story and a private image of a child.
“Young Gary’s death certificate states the cause of death was pneumonia. The sickening attempt to claim otherwise is perhaps the lowest form of ‘journalism’ imaginable.
“There was absolutely no heroin involved whatsoever in death of either person. This needs publicly corrected as a matter of urgency.
“The author of this story owes our family a public apology, not only for printing factually incorrect assertions about the death of our loved ones, but for the unethical way in which she contrived this story without even the basic courtesy of trying to make contact with our grieving family.
“We will be taking robust legal action against the journalist personally and the Sunday World corporately, as well as lodging complaints with the Press Complaints watchdog.
“No family should be subjected to the type of story that our family has had to endure this morning. It is not journalism and we would hope others in the media- some of whom who have already privately made contact with our family to express their disgust- challenge this kind of sickening grief-chasing tabloid journalism that demeans the entire media profession.
“We would thank all those in our community who have already been in touch to express support and taken to social media to voice their disgust. To anyone that collaborated with this story or aided in the heartache heaped upon our grieving family, shame on you.
“We hope no other family ever has to pick up a newspaper and suffer the humiliation, hurt and mockery that our family has had to endure this morning.”
Please Note: Unionist Voice has obtained permission from the Matthews family to publish the private image of Gary included in this article. This image belongs to the family and should not be copied or otherwise reproduced without the express permission of the Matthews family.