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  1. Media Law
November 4, 2014

Daily Star sued for £100k over first edition Harry Styles ‘X-rated sex pic shame’ error

By William Turvill

One Direction star Harry Styles is suing the Daily Star for up to £100,000 after it wrongly identified him in an "X-rated" photograph on its front page.

The newspaper quickly realised its mistake, changing its first edition headline from "1D HARRY X-RATED SEX PIC SHAME" to "1D HARRY FURY AT FAKED SEX PIC" for its second edition.

But a libel claim form, seen by Press Gazette, said the story – which also appeared online – was "widely picked up and repeated across the media and internet".

The original story, which appeared on the night of 29 May for the next day's paper, reported: “One Direction faced a sex storm last night as parents slammed the band’s increasingly shocking behaviour.

“An explicit selfie image of Harry Styles, 20, flooded the net, sparking a flood of complaints.

“In the shot he poses bare-chested with one hand tugging down his black boxers and the other hand hovering provocatively over his manhood.”

The second edition reported: "One Direction star Harry Styles was furious last night after a fake sex picture appeared on the internet.

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"The saucy image, showing a man with tattoos posing in his pants, is definitely not the 20-year-old boyband hunk."

Styles’ claim form, filed in the High Court in July, said that the story suggested he had “acted in a deeply shameful and disgraceful manner by deliberately posting online an indecent and sexually explicit photograph of himself touching his groin for all, and in particular his highly impressionable young fans, to see, thereby causing serious outrage amongst the general public for his shockingly irresponsible behaviour”.

Highlighting the fact the story appeared online as well as in print, the claim form also said the Daily Star did not put the story to Styles or a representative before printing it.

“Given the prominence devoted to the story in such a high selling newspaper, and the sensational nature of the allegation, it was inevitable (and no doubt, intended) that it would be widely picked up and repeated across the media and internet, as in fact it was.”

Lee and Thompson LLP, representing Styles, said in the claim form that the paper had not apologised or admitted the allegation was defamatory.

The Daily Star published an apology on 25 October for the front page.

It said: "We said that Harry Styles of One Direction had posted explicit photos of himself online and we published one of them.

"In fact the pictures had been Photoshopped and were fake. They were not posted by Harry Styles and were not pictures of him.

"We apologise to Harry for any embarrassment and distress our article may have caused.

Express Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Star, declined to comment.

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