Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Peaches Geldof wins libel case

The BBC is reporting victory for Peaches Geldof in a libel case against the Daily Star:

Peaches Geldof, daughter of Bob Geldof, has accepted substantial, undisclosed libel damages over a newspaper claim that she had worked as a prostitute.

The claims by the paper were a terrible slur on Peaches' image. Imagine implying she's ever worked.

Seriously, though, there is more to this story than just the headline - whatever you think of Peaches (or sex workers, come to that), to make that sort of claim about a person without any proof is an awful way for any newspaper, even The Star, to behave. A retraction and apology - at the very least - were required; and with more prominence than the paper managed.

They'd splashed the made-up story on page one; they tucked the correction away inside on page two.

What's really interesting, though, is that a complaint from Geldof's people to the Press Complaints Commission about the handling of the correction decided there was no problem with this behaviour. Understandably, Geldof's team didn't accept this - hence the legal action today.

This isn't, then, so much a story about a nasty paper making an ugly allegation, as a further indication that the Press Complaints Commission is broken beyond repair. When the PCC is being dismantled and its remit handed to Ofcom, Peaches Geldof will have played her part in helping to make that happen. And the papers will only have themselves to blame.