The Press Complaints Commission has accused the Daily Star of “sloppy journalism” – but has stopped short of ordering a front-page correction to a story about Peaches Geldof.
Geldof’s lawyers complained to the newspaper watchdog about a splash from 29 September headlined: “Peaches: Spend night with me for £5k”.
Swan Turton solicitors said the story, which ran on to page five, wrongly claimed that Geldof was paid up to £5,000 merely to attend A-list parties.
It also said the splash made “allegations of a highly scandalous nature” by wrongly suggesting that she accepted money for sex.
The Daily Star accepted that its front-page headline was inaccurate and not supported by any of the story text on page five.
It agreed on the wording of an apology, which appeared on page two on 23 February, but Geldof’s lawyers questioned whether a front-page inaccuracy should receive a front-page retraction.
The apology read: “We now accept that Peaches does not charge a fee to attend parties or events like London Fashion Week as was claimed in the article.
“We also apologise to Peaches for the implication in the headline that she provided services of a personal or sexual nature for the payment of a fee.”
Swan Turton argued that millions of people would only have seen the Daily Star’s front page, and a more prominent apology was needed.
The PCC agreed that “the deliberately suggestive headline” was likely to mislead some readers, even if the text on the front page stopped short of making any direct claims about how Geldof specifically earned money.
It added: “This was all sloppy journalism, which had fallen well short of the high standards of the [editors’ code of practice].”
But the commission said that the front-page article “did not carry a specifically inaccurate claim” and because the main inaccuracy was on page five, a page two apology was “proportionate”.