Wright: "mortified" by mistake
Channel Five presenter Matthew Wright was "mortified" at his slip which led to the man at the centre of the Ulrika Jonsson rape story being splashed across the nation’s tabloids.
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The channel and a number of newspapers are now waiting to hear if the ‘outed’ star will sue for libel after Wright inadvertently named him on his chat show on Wednesday.
The Evening Standard and its This is London website swiftly reported on Wright’s gaffe, having legalled the story first. The Edinburgh Evening News followed suit and the next day several national newspapers also named the man. The star has so far not made a comment.
Wright, who has the same agent as the star, named him during a review of the papers. He apologised on air shortly afterwards.
Max Clifford, who appeared on the show, said a producer had asked him beforehand if he would say if the TV presenter was his client if Wright named him.
"I said ‘no’," said Clifford. "I went on air to talk about the people who approached me and the advice I would give to those involved." Channel 5 said it was "absolutely, categorically" not the case that Wright had deliberately named him.
"It was never the intention of The Wright Stuff to name anyone in connection with the story," a spokeswoman said. "Journalists have been sitting on this man’s doorstep for days and his name is well known in media circles – it’s a mistake that any one of them could have made."
Richard Shillito, partner at solicitors Farrer & Co, said that if the presenter decided to take legal action, he couldn’t see what defence media companies could have "except to try to prove that it’s true, for which purpose they would need Ulrika’s assistance".
By Julie Tomlin