The News of the World has admitted in court that a small number of inaccurate stories featured in the paper over the last three years had not benefited from information gained by hacking into voicemail accounts. Under fierce cross-examination from the prosecution, NoW publishers News International conceded they had run with a handful of articles that lacked the scrutiny and attention to detail expected of their work but had hoped a gullible public wouldn’t notice.
The News International representative revealed, “We have a strong code of good practice at NoW which ensures the accuracy of our articles, and since we came up with a means to hack into the voicemail accounts of celebrities we have made sure this formed an integral part of the rigorous research behind our stories. But we simply don’t have the resources to tap everyone, much as we’d love to. So now we’ve had to own up to a few spurious articles that slipped out without the corroboration of phone-tapping.”
The court case brought to light some entirely fictitious articles for which News International has now apologised and offered compensation. One was a front page splash about Wayne Rooney’s conversion to Islam after an encounter with a Liverpudlian prostitute of Iranian extraction. While another falsehood was the claim David Attenborough had smuggled home three of the gorillas he encountered while filming in Rwanda during the 70s and to this day kept them cramped together in a small cage watching Life On Earth on a loop.
A source at NoW clarified, “We have certainly learned our lesson after this embarrassing episode and accept we owe it to our readers, but more importantly the celebrities we hound, to make sure we do the job more thoroughly. Going forward journalists will need to provide all the relevant tapes to their editor before the story gets the green light. Otherwise we may be on the end of more litigation as a result of fabricated stories like Mohammed al Fayed installing a 7-foot statue of Michael Jackson at Fulham’s football ground that resembled Bubbles more than it did the damaged singer. What do you mean that actually happened? Don’t be so ridiculous!”