Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton, the sister of Prince William’s wife Kate Middleton, are not having a “secret romance,” despite a UK Star article.
The Dec. 10 online and print story was headlined “Harry and Pippa ‘Secret Romance'” and reported on the American magazine OK!‘s claim that the pair had a “secret romance” dating back to a hook-up at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding. The American magazine claimed that Prince William and Kate Middleton busted the bathroom hook up. The Star‘s article said Clarence House, which is the royal residence for Prince Charles and his family, “declined to comment.”
The Star‘s article “appeared in full on page five, but the misleading information was also published on the front page, accompanied by a photograph of the complainant and Ms Middleton, and their names in a heart,” IPSO said.
Prince Harry said that not only was the story false, the Star never actually contacted the Clarence House for comment. The prince said if the paper had reached out, his representatives would have denied the claims as false. The newspaper “had not argued – in response to the complaint” that it actually did contact Clarence House, so IPSO said it indicated the newspaper never did contact the prince’s representatives. Saying so added “weight to the claims” and was “significantly misleading,” IPSO said.
Prince Harry was more upset about the Star‘s publication than the American magazine because “the US magazine had limited hard-copy circulation in North America; whereas the newspaper’s print and online presence had led to the claims being widely read in the UK.”
According to IPSO, Prince Harry complained to the Star the day the story was posted and the newspaper deleted the article without any admission of error or explanation. When IPSO asked, the Star said it told staff not to publish the claims again but didn’t exactly defend the story.
“The article had clearly attributed the claims about the complainant and Ms Middleton to the US magazine,” IPSO found. “While it had not contained a positive assertion of their truth, there was no suggestion that there was reason to doubt their veracity.”
“The Committee was very concerned that the newspaper had failed to engage substantively with IPSO’s investigation into the complaint,” IPSO said, noting the Star didn’t “offer to correct” or provide any evidence it tried to follow the code.
The Star had to publish the ruling online and in its first five print pages but include on its front page a reference to the ruling.