As I noted last Saturday, both the Mail and Sun claimed “exclusive” status for their articles on the last minutes of tragic little Charlie Gard’s life. It did not take too much thought to deduce that one of those papers was being economical with the actualité, and so it has come to pass that the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun now find themselves in the mire for yet another routine lapse of journalistic ethics.
The little boy’s parents and their publicist had arranged an exclusive with the Mail. The Sun offered money, they were refused, and so lifted it anyway. The thought occurs that this may be another sign of under-fire editor Tony Gallagher desperately trying to hold on to the job that the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks has decided he is going to lose anyway. Press Gazette has the sordid details.
And what they reveal means not only bad news for the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, but also for sham press regulator IPSO: “The parents of baby Charlie Gard are set to complain to press regulator IPSO over The Sun’s use of their exclusive interview with the Daily Mail following their son’s death”. Does IPSO have any wriggle room here?
Apparently not: “Featureworld owner Alison Smith-Squire, who has had exclusive access to the family throughout their ordeal, told Press Gazette they had been ‘shocked and horrified by the multiple insensitive sensationalised stories The Sun, The Sun on Sunday and Sun Online spewed out over the weekend’”. Do go on.
“She said the stories had been ‘lifted’ from her exclusive interview with Connie Yates and Charlie Gard about their final moments with baby Charlie … Press Gazette understands The Sun offered to pay for the exclusive story but Smith-Squire said the family chose to go with the Mail because of the paper’s support for them during legal proceedings”.
Tony Gallagher - in big trouble
Ms Smith-Squire then ramped up the pressure on both the Sun and IPSO: “We wish to make it clear these supposed ‘exclusives’ were entirely lifted from one original sweet, tender and sensitive interview the couple did via Featureworld with another newspaper … In addition treasured personal family photos that appeared over two double-page spreads in The Sun and Sun On Sunday, on the front page of The Sun and on Sun Online … were used without any consent from either Featureworld or the family”.
Quotes had been taken out of context. The Sun stood accused of precipitating online abuse towards the parents. Its journalists and editors have apparently gone beyond the pale and right now are not prepared to defend themselves with so much as an excuse note. This looks rather like the excuse Ms Brooks needs to hand Gallagher his P45.
It also begs the question as to whether the Mail will still want to consider Tone as a replacement for the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre when the Vagina Monologue finally leaves the editor’s chair. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving fellow.