Regular readers of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun might be forgiven this morning for thinking that their daily paper has morphed into a tacky advertising flier for High Street betting shops, as today’s edition is titled SunBETS. But this is just another desperate measure enacted by the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks in an effort to keep the money rolling in to the Baby Shard bunker.
But there has to be some news - even in the Sun - and so readers are also treated to the shock horror headline “Exclusive: Top Officer Accused … ARMY CHIEF RAPE CHARGE”. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the online version of the story is rather more cautious, telling “War hero Lt Colonel charged after female soldier ‘raped’ on boozy night out in the US”. Note the quote marks.
That means the Sun can’t stand up its claim on the evidence it has. And there is another eyebrow-raising feature of this article, the name on the by-line. Nick Pisa is a seasoned freelance whose previous claim to fame was having his name on a Daily Mail story claiming that Amanda Knox had been found guilty of murdering her friend Meredith Kercher. She had not. This may not have been his fault, but he did write the story.
Pisa is also believed to have had a hand in nicknaming Ms Knox “Foxy Knoxy”. This does not invalidate his Sun story, but editor Tony Gallagher - one assumes he is still able to exercise some measure of control over what goes into the paper - would be well advised to tread carefully. Especially as the “boozy night out” happened not in the USA, as is claimed, but in Kingston, Ontario, which is in Canada.
It gets worse. This is what Pisa’s article says about the Police response: “Constable Steve Koopman, of Kingston Police, told The Sun: ‘A British Lieutenant Colonel who was temporarily posted to Kingston has been charged with sexual assault in relation to a female victim who is an officer with the Canadian military … On August 2 the accused attended police headquarters and was arrested by detectives for one count of sexual assault’”. Spot the missing word - no mention of rape.
What about the Army spokesman? “We are aware of an investigation being conducted by Kingston Police into an alleged incident that took place in April this year involving a serving officer … As the case is sub-judice it would be inappropriate to make any comment”. So where did Nick Pisa get his claim that there had been an allegation of rape?
Added to all of that, it has to be borne in mind that the Sun is all too ready to defend serving soldiers against claims that they have brutalised and even killed civilians in Iraq. But then, Iraqis are mostly just more of those Scary Muslims (tm), this story is not about mere brown people, and the Sun is desperate to promote its new betting service.
Whether SunBET will give you odds on there being any further coverage in the event that Nick Pisa’s story turns out to be crap is another matter.