Martin Clarke at Leveson

Martin Clarke told the inquiry he has 'no interest' in rushing stories out to beat the competition

The editor of the Mail Online Martin Clarke said three mistakes caused an article incorrectly reporting Amanda Knox's murder conviction being upheld to be published, adding "there was no need for it" to have occurred.

Appearing before the Leveson inquiry today Clarke was questioned about the article, which prompted a "number of complaints" to the Press Complaints Commission at the time.

The PCC upheld a complaint against the Mail Online for the "inaccurate and misleading" article, which was live for 90 seconds and, as the PCC said, "described reactions and behaviour that had not taken place".

The Daily Mail published "an online apology and explanation to readers; published the correct verdict in print the following day; launched an immediate internal inquiry (and subsequently changed its practices regarding such 'set and hold' stories); and disciplined the person responsible for the error" the PCC said at the time.

Clarke said today that three mistakes led to publication of the article at the Mail Online, firstly that there was a misunderstanding about the verdict – a mistake also made by other news outlets – and secondly that the Mail Online had prepared a "set-and-hold" article which he said "was sent out at the same time as the verdict ... that shouldn't have happened".

This second error "compounded it" he told the inquiry. Thirdly he added that "once we killed the story we should have done something technical called 'flushing the cache' which would have erased the story from the internet very quickly".

Clarke added: "It boiled down to human error. The thing that made me angriest was there was no need for it. It's a bit of a fiction that internet sites are desperate to get a story out 10 seconds before the competition. I've no interest in that whatsoever."

He added there had been "a thorough inquiry" and that "firm" advice was issued. "I'd be very displeased if any of those things happen again".

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