The UK Sun published an article calling a man a “cheating, car killer ex-husband” and saying he “scared” and abused his partner Rebekah Vardy, forcing her to move abroad. The article also claimed the man made Vardy sell to a newspaper her story about spending a night with a celebrity and then give him the money.
That Nov. 2017 article, written by Vardy, who was on reality TV show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, broke UK press guidelines, the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation found.
The man in question, Stephen Clarke, complained that the claims in the Sun article were false, upsetting, and not in the public interest because he wasn’t famous. He confirmed he had been involved in a fatal car crash that killed two people about a decade ago but maintained that it was an accident.
A Sun spokesperson told iMediaEthics by e-mail,
“We are disappointed that IPSO has found in favour of the complainant on one minor aspect of his complaint, which in readers’ minds will regrettably imply that the whole story was inaccurate. Overall, IPSO found that The Sun on Sunday had accurately reported Rebekah Vardy’s story of what she says was an abusive marriage. IPSO did not take into consideration at all the fact that Ms Vardy had provided an affidavit, standing by her story, despite the importance that would be placed on an affidavit in a court of law.“The Sun believes alleged victims have the right to speak out, and will continue to provide them with a voice. That the story is on such an emotive issue makes the ruling even more difficult to take.”
In its defense, the Sun argued its article was “clearly” written as Vardy’s point of view on the matter, IPSO said, and that the Sun‘s reporter had heard some of her claims years earlier. The Sun also noted that Vardy stands by her story. iMediaEthics has written to Vardy’s representatives and the Sun.
IPSO found that the Sun didn’t mislead or intentionally publish inaccuracies when claiming he was violent or controlling because the claims were attributed to Vardy, and denied by him. But, the paper failed by not detailing to Clarke the claims against him before publication — specifically the claim he made Vardy sell a story to a newspaper — and by not publishing a correction to reflect Clarke’s side of the story.
While Clarke denied some of the details of the reporting about the fatal car crash he was involved in, IPSO said the Sun’s reporting on the accident, conviction for causing death by reckless driving and sentencing wasn’t significantly inaccurate.
The Sun must published the ruling in the first eight pages of its print edition and online.