The Sunday Mirror has escaped censure by the Press Complaints Commission after falsely claiming that supermodel Kate Moss was pregnant with Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty’s baby.
The article, which reported the claims of Doherty’s uncle, was published on page three of the paper’s October 22 edition under the headline ‘Babyprambles: Pete and Kate can’t wait for first tot”.
A front page banner headline read: ‘Kate IS having a baby”.
The story was judged to be inaccurate by the PCC and therefore in breach of clause one of its Code of Conduct (accuracy), but it decided that the paper’s offer of an apology was acceptable and decided to take no further action.
Moss’s representatives complained that no attempt had been made to clear the story with her lawyers or public relations team but the PCC said in its adjudication that: ‘The Code does not require newspapers to contact the subjects of articles in all cases before publication,’though failure to do so in some cases could result in further action.
The paper argued that Moss ‘could not be relied on the give the full picture about the matter’and so did not consult her.
However, Moss’s solicitor was unhappy with the paper’s offer of a page two apology and thought it deserved a place on the front page, where the original banner headline had been.
The Code requires that apologies are given ‘due prominence’and ruled that publishing a page two apology would suffice.
The PCC said in its adjudication: ‘The newspaper had made clear that the article was based upon information from a specific sourceâ€¦ In this case, the paper had a named source who was close to the complainant’s partner. There was no apparent reason to doubt what he was saying. In these circumstances, failure to contact the complainant was not itself a breach of the Code.
‘The newspaper offered to publish the complainant’s denial that she was pregnant in its next edition. This seemed to the Commission to be a prompt response to the complaint.”