How fucking hard is it to find a snap shot of a newspaper frontpage, eh?
Peaches Geldof has accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages at London’s High Court over a claim that she was a prostitute who charged £5,000 a night for sexual services.
The 20-year-old TV presenter and model had brought proceedings over a September 2008 front page story in The Daily Star.
That is quite insulting, isn’t it? It could ruin a career, an accusation like that, and once mud has been thrown it can be bloody hard to get off.
Peaches initially went to the Press Complaints Commission, which according to the PCC is the right thing to do, and the complaint was upheld and the Daily Star published an apology and retraction. So if Peaches got an apology, why sue?…
“The defendant refused to publish a retraction and apology on its front page but instead published it on page two.
“As the publication was substantially smaller, the claimant considered this to be unacceptable as it was not, in her view, adequately prominent.”
The PCC felt that an apology on the inside of the paper, even though the offending headline was on the front page, was fine. As far as the PCC was concerned it was job done. Next, please.
But it isn’t fine, is it? What the Star did was the equivilent to standing in the street shouting about how Peaches Geldof is a whore to all and sundry that passed by. What the PCC let them do is tell only the people that stop by their office that, actually, Peaches isn’t a whore.
The headlines on the front page scream to the world whether the paper is bought or not. When you buy a paper people notice the other papers, just because they have to find it on the shelf. Many more people would’ve seen that headline, and changed their opinion for the worse, than would’ve seen the retraction and apology.
What, though, would the PCC have done if it had deemed an apology on the second page not good enough and the Daily Star still refused to put it on the front page? Would it have fined the Star? Would it have helped Peaches take the Star to court? Of course not. It would’ve done nothing, because it can do nothing more.
The question is purely academic, anyway. The PCC may have ruled that the complaint was valid, but the ‘punishment’ (yeah, yeah. stop laughing) would’ve been negotiated. The Star, along with many other papers, would never put an apology on the front page, it would’ve told the PCC to fuck right off, so as a compromise, the second page it was.
Quite rightly, the second page was found not to be good enough.
Fortunately, Peaches has the money to take the matter further, not everyone does. The next time it could be you, unable to make a paper stand in the street and tell everyone it was wrong about you.