A Tasmanian newspaper has come under fire after it published a misleading letter which falsely reported an incident involving a man entering the female toilets at an aquatic centre.
Launceston’s local paper The Examiner printed a letter penned by a reader outlining her “disgust” towards a council swimming pool that allowed a transgender male to use female facilities.
It was published under the Letter to the Editor section of the paper, under the title ‘Girls getting changed, then walks in a man’.
“I am writing to express my absolute disgust at the Launceston aquatic centre and concern for our children,” a resident by the name of Olivia Nettleford wrote.
“Recently while getting changed in the FEMALE change rooms with many young girls present, an adult MALE walked in and started to undress, in front of the kids!”
She then explained a father of one of the girls who was in the change room “walked in and forcibly moved” the man, before the incident was reported to centre staff.
“They shrugged and said there was nothing they could do because the person ‘identifies as female’,” Ms Nettleford said.
“The father who, (sic) in my opinion did the absolute right thing any parent would do, has now received a life ban from this facility. (sic) Simply for protecting his child.”
The woman then went on to explain that even if the man did identify as female, they should not be allowed access to the female toilets and the facility should install non-gender specific facilities.
“Protect our children, stop this nonsense and potentially dangerous behaviour,” the letter concluded.
In the hours after its publication, it’s understood a spate of angered locals contacted the City of Launceston council, which operates the public pool, to vent their frustration over the incident.
However any concerns were soon foiled after council investigations found the report was false.
“The City of Launceston can confirm that a letter to the editor published in The Examiner (on Tuesday) on the topic of the Launceston Leisure & Aquatic Centre has no basis in fact,” a statement by the Council reads.
“No such incident has occurred at the facility. It is regrettable that no attempt was made to check the veracity of the claim before publication.”
On the Wednesday following the letter’s publication, The Examiner issued a retraction verifying the letter contained incorrect information.
“The Examiner publishes letters from readers in good faith and expects the letters, as in overwhelmingly the case, to be true reflections of reader views and opinions, and also to be factually correct,” the retraction read.
“Unfortunately, we appear to have been misled in one letter over an incident that was claimed to have occurred at the Launceston aquatic centre.”
After being notified by the Council and speaking to the letter writer, the statement concluded the letter contained incorrect information and has since been removed from the publication’s website.
Newly appointed editor of the newspaper Mark Westfield was later quoted in an article on Friday saying “The Examiner did all it could in the circumstances”.
“As soon as it was found out the letter contained false claims it was removed from the masthead’s website,” he said.
“The Examiner publishes letters from its readers in good faith. It is impossible to check them if they contain accounts of personal experiences, as many do.”
News.com.au has contacted The Examiner for further comment on the matter.