Joe’s Crow Country

THE case of Richard Peppiatt, the Daily Star reporter who resigning last week, is both worrying and pioneering for British journalism and provides weight, if it was needed, that we shouldn’t believe all we read.

Peppiatt handed in a lengthy and revealing resignation letter to the Star’s proprietor Richard Desmond last Friday, and as a parting shot, gave a copy to The Guardian for publication.

If what is written in the letter is true, it exposes the shockingly shameless fabrication of celebrity-based stories by the paper, and seems to confirm the anti-Islamic agenda I always suspected they had.

Peppiatt’s letter was triggered by a front-page story in the Star in February, which he claims he knows to be false. The story stated how the far-right pressure group the English Defence League was to become a political party, even though the leader of the group had said they were not.

He also says he was asked to write a story which “omitted a few facts” and “plucked a couple of quotes” about council funded, Muslim-only “squat-hole” toilets in Rochdale. They were neither paid for by a local authority nor Muslim-only.

He illustrated the potential knock-on effect of what the paper publishes by writing: “The flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas.” Well, try this: “The lies of a newspaper in London can get a bloke’s head caved in down an alley in Bradford.”

He also admitted to making up stories about Kelly Brook (seeing a hypnotherapist about the amount of time she takes to get ready to go out), Michael Jackson (who he wrote was to attend Jade Goody’s funeral), Jordan (turning to Buddhism), and Matt Lucas (being on suicide watch after the death of his partner).

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None of these had any factual basis, he said.

He says he was even made to dress up in a burkha for one story, and was ambushed by anti-terror police.

Now, after “growing a backbone”, his letter could uncover the unashamed ethics of The Star, which, if these allegations are true, seems desperate to get its hands on false celebrity ‘exclusives’ and stir-up racial tension, rather than print fact and reliably inform their public.

It has always been a suspicion of mine that some newspapers make stories up, but at the same time a more na�ve part of me wondered how they could be getting away with it.

Constantly, tabloid newspapers back up their stories with quotes from “a source,” or “an insider.” They either have an army of publicity-shy moles with access to the inner-circles of every D-lister from Vanessa Feltz to Louis Spence, or they make things up because swathes of the public keep buying copies.

Peppiatt claims the paper had to nail home an “us and them” narrative every so often in order to promote the EDL and cause a feeling of Islamphobia.

If true, this would be proof that daily newspapers will go to any lengths to impose their political agenda on their readership.

The Daily Star, for its part, says its editorial policy does not hold any negativity towards Islam, and the paper has never, and does not endorse, the EDL.

Reading a variety of newspapers is a good thing, and provides balance to life.

There is nothing wrong with reading tabloids, but always question a story’s truth, its sources, and what it could be trying to make you believe.

Peppiatt’s revelations, which I hope force more journalists to do the same, illustrate this.

Except The Crow of course. You must always read The Crow.