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Friday 22 May 2015

Fleet Street Fox - Er, Hello

As the gravity of the situation facing Trinity Mirror sank in yesterday - the group even declined to put forward someone to appear on BBC Newsnight - some more alert media watchers had pored over the damages awarded and seen that one story in particular had been the subject of an award of £6,000. It concerned an article titled “Lucy Falls Into Arms Of Acrobat”, and its main subject was actor Lucy Benjamin.
Susie Boniface

Now, the Free Library entry for that story has been taken down - why that should have been done I will leave to others - but we know the article was published, because the BBC website showed a photo of the headline back in March, which is reproduced below. The names on the by-line included Dan Evans, who has already admitted his share of phone hacking at the now-defunct Screws, and Susie Boniface, aka Fleet Street Fox.

The article told “Two weeks ago the couple ordered £108 worth of booze for Lucy's [hotel] room at 12.30am as they partied through the night”, of Ms Benjamin’s relationship with gymnast Bobby Hanton. Knowing that said booze had been ordered, perhaps by seeing it delivered, is a perfectly plausible explanation. But being able to place a price tag on it is rather more difficult. And now have come the damages.
Moreover, it will be interesting to see if the upcoming list of claimants seeking damages includes newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, who was the subject of another article, “TV NATASHA AND HER SECRET LOVER; Live-in boyfriend left ‘devastated’”, that appeared to have been assembled from dubious sources. These included not only details of phone conversations, but how the hacks knew where to find her.

For instance, readers were told “BBC Breakfast's Natasha Kaplinsky has been cheating on her long-term partner with her former boss” before being informed that “They were also spotted together in a cafe in South London. The couple looked relaxed in each other's company, Natasha playfully toying with a lip gloss which she applied [to] her lips after the couple shared a kiss”. Must have been a long stake-out. Or not.

And, as the man said, there’s more. Another Boniface by-line was on the story about John Leslie’s break-up with Abi Titmuss, “Jealous John Dumps Abi In Cheating Row”, the story appearing in the Sunday Mirror on October 12, 2003. Yet another appeared on a story about con man Peter Foster, and Carole Caplin, former friend of the Blairs. Titled "He Cheated On Carole", the second line contains another of those "quotes from friends”.

The on-line copies may have been pulled, but all those articles can be referenced without too much difficulty. It’s possible that all the less scrupulous stuff was done at some distance from Ms Boniface - but when information comes in for you to write up, and it looks mildly pungent, do you just claim the Fawlty Towers Manuel defence, and shrug “I know nothing”, or do you ask whether you may be dropping yourself in the mire?

Susie Boniface may not be out of the woods yet. Zelo Street will maintain a watching brief.

1 comment:

rob said...

"do you just claim the Fawlty Towers Manuel defence, and shrug “I know nothing”"

Also known as the Messi Barcelona defence. With him in the attack they don't need a really good one.