The Daily Mirror has made an offer of amends following a £50,000 libel case brought by Coronation Street star Michelle Keegan over claims she had tweeted endorsements for products in exchange for expensive gifts.
The newspaper was following up an undercover sting by Channel 4 Dispatches with the story “Corrie stars caught in TV sting” on 8 July 2013.
According to High Court documents seen by Press Gazette, Keegan is “one of the most well known actresses” on Coronation Street with more than 1.5 million followers on her @michkeegan Twitter account.
The Dispatches team set up what was described in the Daily Mirror as “a bogus stand at a gifting suite” in Manchester. The programme alleged that celebrities agreed to be photographed carrying products or to tweet endorsements “in exchange for free designer goods, cosmetic dental treatments and beauty products”.
However, the Daily Mirror has accepted that Keegan was not present at the gifting suite at the time of the sting. The newspaper’s in-house lawyers, in correspondence with Keegan’s legal team, claimed that the soap star had previously received free goods.
One issue raised by Keegan’s legal team was the description of one of the products at the event called “Puttana Aziendale” which is the Italian for “Corporate Prostitute”.
According to Keegan’s legal team, the claims contained in the Mirror story from 8 July 2013 were defamatory and have caused her “upset and hurt to feelings”. They denied Keegan:
- "Had offered to enter into a dishonest and underhand celebrity endorsement deal where she would deceive her unsuspecting Twitter followers and member of the public by tweeting apparently genuine endorsements for a firm’s products, or being photographed carrying those products, without ever disclosing that she had agreed to carry out those actions in return for handfuls of apparently expensive goods
- "Offered to make such deceptive tweets despite this being in breach of advertising codes and fair trading laws."
Keegan’s lawyers said the newspaper had effectively accused the actress of “appalling, sleazy, diva-style behaviour” and that she “ought to be ashamed”. Also that she had been compared to a “corporate prostitute”.
According to the document: “The claimant has suffered damage to her personal and professional reputation, and has been caused upset, embarrassment and hurt to feelings.”
It said: “The failure of the defendant to take any steps to contact the claimant in respect of the defamatory allegations prior to publication. The following of this basic tenet of responsible journalism would have allowed the claimant to inform the defendant that she did not even attend the event described and that the allegations about her were entirely untrue.”
It is not know whether any cash settlement was made to Keegan. A spokesperson for Trinity Mirror said that Keegan “had accepted an offer of amends”.
It is understood that the case has not yet been concluded.