Monday, 31 January 2011

A True Story Of Daily Mail Lies (guest post)

In a departure from this blog's usual jokey fisking, what follows is a guest post from fellow Manchester-dweller and fellow cool person Juliet Shaw. It's the story of how she agreed to be the subject of what turned out to be a deeply misleading Mail article, and her subsequent fight against it.

I grew up with the Daily Mail. When I was younger and living with my parents, they read it every day. As I got older and began to form my own opinions, I decided I didn’t like it and instead opted for what I thought to be the more independent viewpoint of The Guardian. However, I didn’t actively oppose the Daily Mail. I had no opinion on it, other than it wasn’t for me.

Pre-Facebook, pre-blogs and Twitter, if you didn’t like a particular newspaper, you didn’t buy it and could quite easily go about your life without becoming involved in any discussions about its content.

So when, in 2003, I received a request on Response Source (an online resource for journalists to request information from PR companies) from a freelance journalist working for the Daily Mail looking for people who had left the city to live in the country and the benefits it had brought, I decided to respond. I vaguely knew the journalist as she’d started work at the Manchester Evening News just a few weeks before I left my job there. I’d recently left Manchester to return to my home town in Cumbria with my two children (three and 10 at the time) because of an acrimonious relationship breakdown, and I was working as a freelance copywriter and PR consultant and keen to raise my professional profile in my new home town, where I lived in an unremarkable semi-detached house 10 minutes away from the beach.

What followed was a catalogue of events that proved just how little regard the Daily Mail has for the people it relies on for its content. Some might argue that the celebrities the Daily Mail and other tabloids pick apart on a daily basis deserve the negative coverage they get. After all, they’re only too keen to court publicity when it suits them, when they’ve got a new film or book to plug – so they’re fair game when it comes to exposés about their love life and can’t be surprised if they’re the subject of a negative article about their weight/hair/dress sense, right?

However, I wasn’t a celebrity. Some might be of the opinion that, working in PR, I knew the game and how it worked and that by putting myself forward to appear in a national newspaper, I too deserved everything I got. But my speciality at the time was business to business PR – writing case studies about wonderful things IT companies did and then getting them placed in the trade press. Everything I wrote was – and still is - backed up with statistics and evidence, and then sent to my interviewee to confirm that I’d quoted him/her correctly and in the right context. I’d never have dreamt of paraphrasing or using artistic licence – I was of the opinion that if I had to start making bits of the story up, then I didn’t really have a story.

So I naively (or stupidly, depending on how far you’re willing to push your sympathy levels) believed that when I was interviewed about the benefits of leaving the city to live in the country, my comments would be reflected accurately and I would have a nice bit of publicity in a national newspaper with which to promote my business.

My response to the journalist was met with a request for a photograph, and after sending it I was told I’d be ideal and that the feature would be a great plug for my business. Unfortunately, rather than promoting my business, the feature made me a laughing stock. I earned a reputation within my community for being a fantasist and a liar, and spent the next two years learning the intricacies of the laws of defamation and in order to try and salvage what was left of my reputation.

The whole episode started badly. I was alarmed by the line of questioning during the interview, which seemed entirely focused towards the number of men I’d been out with rather than the benefits of country living.

Then I was coerced into attending a photo-shoot in London – a round trip of 580 miles - after being told by the journalist that her “neck was on the line big-time” if I didn’t. Not wanting to be responsible for someone I barely knew getting into trouble and perhaps losing a commission, I reluctantly agreed to attend after they agreed to pay my travel costs and put me up in a hotel for the night – coming all the way from Cumbria, it couldn’t be done in a day. It took many weeks and countless emails to increasingly senior members of Daily Mail staff before my expenses were eventually reimbursed.

On 11 September 2003, the article appeared in the Femail section of the Daily Mail. I’ll reproduce it here – what was printed, along with what actually happened.

“Sex & the Country – What happened when four singletons, fed up with shallow urban lives, upped sticks in a quest for rural romance?”

Shallow urban lives? I didn’t have a shallow urban life. I had two children and a career. I’d just been through a very traumatic relationship breakdown and a period of severe depression. And I certainly didn’t force my children to move 100 miles in a ‘quest for rural romance’. I wanted a better life for us all, away from a situation that had caused me immense distress.

“Sex And The City is back on TV – but an increasing number of British career women are turning their backs on metropolitan life in favour of the traditional courting rituals of the countryside.”

So now it became clear that the article had never been about the benefits of leaving the city to live in the countryside, as it had been told to me. The article was a reposte to the final series of Sex And The City. I was never made aware of this. Had I known the feature was to take this angle, I would never have taken part.

“FEMAIL spoke to four, including Juliet Shaw, 31, a PR consultant, who moved from Manchester to Walney Island, Cumbria, in August 2000. She split from her partner four years ago and has two children, Amelia, four, and Bethany, ten.”

I was 33. I moved in April 2000. I’d split from my partner three years ago. Nothing defamatory there, but inaccurate nonetheless.

“She says she has been asked out on more dates in her three years in the country than in 20 years in the city.”

No I didn’t. Not true. I said I rarely went out and, other than two occasions which I’ll describe later, I didn’t meet men - repeatedly, in response to the increasingly probing questions about my love life.

“Juliet says:”

That simple line made it all oh so much worse. I wasn’t being paraphrased, or speculated about. What was to follow was directly from me, in my own words. Or so the Daily Mail would have its readers believe.

“The ‘best’ man I met in my final year of being single in Manchester, a doctor, ‘forgot’ to tell me he was married until a few weeks after we met in a nightclub.”

Fabricated. All of it. In my final year of being in Manchester I was in a relationship with my daughter’s father. My final year of being single in Manchester? It had never been discussed. Without sitting down with a calender, I’d struggle to work out when that even was. Either way, I had certainly never had a relationship with a doctor, married or otherwise. During the interview, after racking my brains for romantic encounters following increasingly probing questions from the journalist, I had finally remembered a drunken snog I’d had with a friend of a friend on a night out around six months’ previously. He was a doctor, but he wasn’t married and there was certainly no relationship. We didn’t even exchange phone numbers.

“To me, it summed up the hypocrisy of the whole city experience, and I despaired of ever finding a man to settle down with.”

No I didn’t. I left Manchester because of an extremely traumatic relationship, and I would have been quite happy to never date again. As for the ‘hyprocisy of the whole city experience’, I don’t even know what this means.

“It was all the more difficult for me because I had two children from a previous relationship.”

What was difficult? Dating? I didn’t want to date. Before I left Manchester I was in a relationship, so no dating there. When I left, I was more than happy to be on my own with my girls. I certainly didn’t begrudge them from preventing me from going out on the pull.

“But I have been delighted to discover that most social events in the countryside are children friendly, such as garden parties, camping and walking on the beach.”

I’ve never been to a garden party in my life. I enjoy camping and we did walk on the beach regularly. I did these activities to have fun with my children, not in a desperate attempt to snare a man.

“In the city, dating revolves around the sort of places to which you can’t take children, such as bars and clubs.”

Does it? I wouldn’t know. I was in a relationship so didn’t go out dating.

“It was difficult to find a man when I could go out only if I had a babysitter.”

I already had one so wasn’t looking.

“My sister had lived on a farm in Cumbria for ten years, and she and her husband loved it so much that I decided to move nearby. I grew up in Derbyshire, so I was used to the pace of life in the countryside.”

No I didn’t. I spent a few years in Hadfield, Cheshire, but the majority of my early years were spent in Barrow-in-Furness. Again, nothing defamatory, just a simple inability to get things right.

“I now live in a gorgeous three-bedroom semi-detached house with a massive garden and its own beach.”

Now, this is where I started to become really alarmed. I lived on Walney Island which doesn’t have any houses that have their own private beach. You can walk all the way around the island on very public shores, and anyone familiar with the island will know this to be the case.

“I am a ten-minute drive from the Lakes, and it costs me just £400 a month, which is what I paid to live in a two-bedroom flat in Manchester. I have started my own PR business and because it’s online, it doesn’t matter where I am – I’ve been earning more than I ever did as a wage-slave in the city.”

Again, basic factual errors. I’d been working as a freelance PR consultant and copywriter for four years by 2003, and started doing so two years before I left Manchester. My business wasn’t ‘online’, whatever that may mean, and I was never a wage-slave in the city. I had a job I loved which I chose to leave after the birth of my second daughter.

“But most importantly, I’ve been asked out on more dates in the past three years than in the 20 years I spent in Manchester.”

Leaving aside the assertion that had I spent 20 years in Manchester which meant that, using the ages in the article, I would have been 11 when I left my family and moved there (and she’s already stated I grew up in Derbyshire), this was simply not true. It was made up.

“Eligible country bachelors have asked for my number in village pubs, on the high street, on the beach and at the local fete.”

Fabricated. All of it. Never said it.

“Now I’m more experienced at countryside dating, I take full advantage of all the opportunities there are to meet men.”

I wasn’t, and I didn’t. I had two young children. I worked from home. I rarely socialised. My idea of a day out was doing the big shop in Tesco.

“I’ve helped out on a local farm, feeding lambs and collecting eggs, because there were several young, fit and handsome men working there.”

My sister lived on a farm. I never helped out on it. Sometimes she gave me eggs, I never collected them. The only men who worked there were here husband, his father, his brother and, some years previously a man called Kevin who I shall refer to in more detail shortly.

“I would never have imagined myself in wellies scrabbling around in the dirt a year ago – I was more at home in designer stilletos – but I have to admit I really enjoyed it.”

Fabricated. I’ve never worn designer anything. I hate shopping. And the only time I’ve worn wellies and scrabbled around in dirt was when I went to Glastonbury in 1997.

“Being at the farm every weekend, I ended up getting to know one of the farmhands, Kevin, very well. He’s three years younger than me and we saw each other for a month before we drifted apart.”

Now the fabrication is damaging not just me, but other people. Kevin was a friend of my sister and her husband, and he had indeed worked at the farm. However, this was a couple of years previously and he’d been married at the time. We saw each other a couple of times long after he’d left the farm and long after he’d got divorced. This single sentence makes it appear that, again, I was dating a married man.

“It was so refreshing talking about nature and the countryside while sitting and cuddling on hay bales, rather than discussing something vacuous about work in a noisy city bar or club.”

Oh my. I laughed so hard when I read this (before the reality of the whole article hit in and I cried). I can categorically state that, prior to attending the photoshoot for the Daily Mail when we were asked to pose on bales of hay brandishing pitchforks, I had never sat on one, never mind cuddled on it. Totally, completely made up.

“Another great place to meet men is on the beach. There are always lots walking their dogs or riding a bike who will smile or stop to talk to me.”

There are men on the beach. Some of them will be on bikes, some of them will have dogs. However, I never said any of this.

“People aren’t afraid of each other the way they are in cities, where even making eye contact with someone can lead to verbal abuse. I’m also convinced the men you meet in the countryside are nicer characters than those in the city. They are easier to approach, less arrogant and not at all concerned iwth how you look or whether you’re wearing designer clothes.”

Not defamatory, but not true either. I never said any of it.

“The only thing I really miss is the shopping and the nightlife.”

I hate shoppping.

“But then I don’t feel the same kind of pressure to keep up with trends.”

What pressure? I’ve never felt any pressure to keep up with anything, except perhaps my rent.

“I’ve swapped my Jimmy Choos for Timberland boots, and I’ll never go back.”

I’ve never owned any Jimmy Choos or Timberland boots. I didn’t say it.

This article appeared in the week my youngest daughter started infant school. I’d been looking forward to it immensely, because I’d spent the last three years working from home and looking after two young children. Working from home meant I didn’t have the social aspects of life that working in an office could bring and being a single parent of two young children meant that nights out were rare. I’d suffered depression of varying degrees, particularly since the birth of my second daughter, and had been happy to stay at home with my girls. But I saw my youngest daughter starting school as an opportunity to meet some new people, make some new friends and the start of a new chapter in my life.

This article changed all that. When I went to school on the day it was published, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. There was audible mockery and thinly-disguised pointing and sniggering. I didn’t blame the perpetrators – after all, here was the braggart who lied in a national newspaper about having her own private beach and boasted of her endless pursuit of men on beaches and at garden parties. I would probably have done the same.

But there was no way of defending myself. I couldn’t approach every single person who sniggered at me in the street or while I was doing my shopping and ask them if they’d read the article, and explain I hadn’t said any of it.

Obviously, I wrote to complain. They responded that they were happy the article was an accurate reflection of what I’d said and were standing by it. I wrote again, pointing out in detail the discrepancies. Again, they stood by their article and told me that they would not enter into any further correspondence with me and considered the matter closed.

I certainly didn’t consider the matter closed. My name, image and brief details of my life had been used to fabricate a story which bore no resemblance to me or my life, then presented as fact, said by me, in my own words. It was damaging to me, my children, my friends and had a significantly negative impact on my life.

I emailed the other three women who’d been interviewed for the article – I found their addresses on an email the journalist had sent about the photoshoot. They each confirmed that they’d been horrified by the article, that it bore no relationship to anything they’d said and that they too had complained to Associated Newspapers and been similarly stonewalled. Sadly, after consulting solicitors they decided not to pursue any legal action because of the prohibitive costs.

I made my own enquiries with a solicitor and he was very sympathetic, but told me that I’d need a five-figure sum to consider bringing a claim.

Not having a five-figure sum, but determined to bring the Daily Mail to account for their damaging article, I decided to pursue my own claim.

So I researched the laws of defamation on the internet, identified the areas appropriate to me and acted as a litigant in person in an action against Associated Newspapers.

In response to my original claim for defamation, the Daily Mail brought a claim against me citing that I had no prospect of success and proposing that my claim be thrown out. This meant that instead of Associated Newspapers responding to my grievances, I was forced to defend myself to them and prove that I had been wronged. They also applied for me to pay their costs.

It took two years of legal wranglings before the claim was finally heard in front of Mr Justice Tugendhadt in the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

I won’t go into detail of his summing up – I’d have to go down to the cellar and sift through boxes and boxes of paperwork to do that, and I’ve already spent two years of my life on this. (You could probably double that if you included all the time I spend jabbering on about it to people I meet at parties.) But Mr Justice Tugendhadt ruled in my favour, and gave me leave to proceed to a full defamation trial with jury. The two or three points he didn’t allow weren’t on the basis that he believed them to be true – it was because although it was accepted they were fictional, I couldn’t prove that my reputation had been harmed as a result of them being in a national newspaper: technicalities. He also declined Associated Newspapers application for costs against me of around £24,000.

Immediately following the ruling, their barrister approached me outside the court and asked what I required to settle. Having not thought that far ahead – I hadn’t dared to believe I might win that round of my battle, so hadn’t given my next move any further thought – I declined to answer, asking her to contact me in writing.

All I’d ever wanted was an admission that they had got it wrong. If, in the response to my original letter, they’d have apologised for the freelance journalist getting some facts wrong, or admitted their sub editors had been a little heavy-handed, I would have left it there. But I was not prepared to be defamed in a national newspaper and then bullied into silence.

While I was considering my position, I received a call from the senior partner in the law firm representing Associated Newspapers. He ever so kindly pointed out that trials cost lots and lots of money, and it would be such a shame if they were forced to take my house off me were I to lose such a complicated case. I pointed out my house was rented and I had nothing to lose. He then very sympathetically informed me it would be just horrid if they had to take my business assets in order to recover their costs should the outcome of the trial not be favourable for me. I thanked him for his concern, and pointed out that as a freelance working from home, my only asset was my brain and I was more than happy to put it to good use fighting my claim to the end, whatever the outcome.

Surprisingly, the next day I received a letter asking me what I wanted in order to avoid the need for a full trial. It was simple – always had been. I wanted an apology. I wanted them to admit they’d fabricated the article, made me look a fool and damaged my reputation.

And given they’d tried to make me pay upwards of £20,000 in costs just to get to that point, I thought it only fair I was reimbursed for my losses: for the money I didn’t earn when I was spending time preparing my claim and subsequent defence; for the reams and reams of evidence and statements I’d had to prepare in triplicate; for the money I’d spent travelling to London to attend the hearing.

I worked it out as accurately as possible – the number of days, the photocopying, the train tickets – and asked for exactly that, with a breakdown of how I’d come to my figure. Given that the partner in Associated Newspapers’ law firm had warned me a trial would cost upwards of £100,000, I could have plucked a number from thin air and added a few zeros. But it was never about the money. It was the principle. It was about standing up to a corporation that thought nothing of using my image, my name and my location alongside a story purporting to be about me, in my own words, but that bore no resemblance to my life or my values. It was about wanting them to accept responsibility for the damage they’d done to my life.

So I sent them my conditions to settle; my costs, and an apology. They agreed to one or the other. I could have the costs and the matter would be resolved. Or they would print an apology, but offer no financial recompense.

By this time, I had spent two years bringing this case to court and defending myself against a national corporation. I was tired of fighting, and although I had been determined to see it through to the bitter end, the prospect of recouping some of my losses and never having to spend another night sifting through hundreds of pages of statements and quotes was too appealing to refuse. I also suspected that had I agreed to an apology being printed, it would never have found its way into the newspaper and I would have to start another lengthy legal battle. And I knew that if I did proceed to full trial with jury, and the jury ruled in my favour but their settlement was the same or less than the figure I’d requested, I’d be liable for all the costs of the trial.

So I went for the money. It wasn’t a massive amount, certainly not life changing. The majority of it went to my mum, who’d been bailing me out when my earnings dipped due to spending so much time on the case. A couple of weeks later my engine blew in my car, so the rest went on a second-hand Punto. That’s the sums we’re talking about, not Ferarri territory. Not even close.

In the five or so years that have passed since my claim was settled, things have got much, much worse. The huge growth in the Mail’s online presence has meant that its search for content becomes ever more desperate, and it gleefully prints pictures of 15 year old girls in bikinis - “Hasn’t she grown up!”- while whipping the nation into an outraged frenzy by falsely claiming Muslims insist extractor fans are removed because they’re offended by the smell of bacon, or that schools are being forced to teach ‘gay maths’ to corruptable young minds. But the majority of the people the Daily Mail tells lies about won’t do anything about it. Bringing a libel claim is prohibitively expensive, and there’s no legal aid. And for those who have the time and inclination to take the law into their own hands, it just got a lot more difficult.

The same judge that ruled in my favour, Mr Justice Tugendhat, ruled in June 2010 that in order to bring a claim for libel, claimants must prove that they have been substantially affected by the offending article, rather than simply being able to demonstrate an adverse effect of publication. The ruling was made in response to a claim against Lynn Barber and the Telegraph Newspaper Group over a book review, and applauded by journalists and news organisations as a step forward for press freedom.

Unfortunately, it also made it much easier for unscrupulous tabloids to print whatever they like about members of the public in order to fit their own agenda, with very little prospect of recrimination.

308 comments:

  1. I know I shouldn't be surprised by the fact that they did this, but just the sheer amount of stuff they made up is shocking!

    Good on you for defending yourself.

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  2. That really is shocking. I applaud you for sticking to your principles.
    I always did have a low opinion of the Mail but it has most definitely gotten a little bit lower.

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  3. A very sad story - mark me up as a member of the public who is (further) convinced of the sickness exemplified in your story.

    Please keep your story out there. Thanks.

    It is tempting to start stories about the journalists/editors/owners who damage others for money.

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  4. Really excellent post. And I agree with your point at the end - too many people campaigning for libel reform (which is much needed) seem to forget that not all publications are as scrupulous as the Guardian or the BMJ, and sometimes they need to be sued.

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  5. They're a bunch of "really bad swear words"

    You just know that the journalist - and I use the phrase loosely - moved straight on to probing the next victim for twistable information to fill their pathetic excuse for a newspaper. Without giving a second thought for anything they'd printed.

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  6. Thanks for your support and taking the time to read my very long post! I would like to stress though that rather than being sad about it, I was incredibly angry and determined to take action.

    Although the post refers to my previous depression, at the time the article appeared it wasn't an issue and still isn't. I needed to refer to it just to highlight the huge gulf between what I actually discussed with the journalist - which did include my depression and relationship breakdown being a catalyst for the move, as well as the improved quality of life, better schools, etc - and the story that appeared in print.

    There was absolutely no room for interpretation - my story didn't fit their agenda, so they simply made up one that did.

    It's been very cathartic to finally write it all down, and many thanks to Jonathan for giving me the space on his excellent blog.

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  7. Wow. Good on you for taking it as far as you did, and I don't blame you at all for taking the money and getting the hell out.

    I hope writing this out has given you at least some sense of relief. I'm buggered if I know what to do about it but there is something here that struck a chord so I hope something good will come out of it.

    Lots of sympathy.

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  8. Well done for toughing it out against a predatory bunch of evil-minded circulation chasers. Having read this the real lesson here is that the oft-trumpeted 'Journalists Code of Conduct' isn't worth the paper it may be printed on, and one should never talk to the press. Shame.

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  9. I stopped buying the Daily mail in 1974 when their headline announced a Tory victory in the General Election on the morning Harold Wilson won. It was written the night before, based on what they wanted to see. I never bought another copy.

    It's an odious tabloid that trades on an air of respectability and social concern. Hot air.

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  10. Great blog and a superb example of poor journalism that not everyone has the courage or ability to challenge.

    I blogged recently about the declining standards at the Daily Mail http://mbradbrook.blogspot.com/2011/01/whats-wrong-at-daily-mail.html. But it appears that the standards were poor long before I acknowledged it.

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  11. Ugh. As an American I'm not familiar with the Daily Mail, but as a human being I'm disgusted at what they perpetrated against you. If they wanted this story so badly, why didn't they just write a fictional piece? Or at least fabricate one additional detail in the "article"-- your name!

    "Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
    Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
    Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
    'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    And makes me poor indeed."

    Even the creepy Iago knew as much... (Othello, act 3, scene 3)

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  12. Having spent more time than I really ever wanted to factchecking Daily Mail stories, I came to the conclusion a few years ago that if the Daily Mail publish it, and there's no independent corroboration, then it's simplest just to assume it's not true: there may be a shred of fact somewhere in the story, but it's by no means to be assumed.

    I am so sorry this happened to you.

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  13. Blimey. I'm shocked. I knew the Daily Heil were bad but I hadn't realised just how much so. Good no you for standing your ground. I'm just sorry they were able to try and intimidate you into giving up and that the other women couldn't sue them too

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  15. You are an absolute hero, and I only wish there were more people like you who were willing to stand up to bullies and fight for principles.

    Your girls are lucky to have such a strong, amazing mum!

    {{massive you-totally-rock hugs from California}}

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  16. What an awful story, all kudos to you for having the courage to stand up for yourself.
    Making the facts fit your agenda is nothing new; if you have a few minutes look up Procrustes and what Richard Asher said about him.
    Have you reached 'closure' now?

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  17. well done for standing your ground. what an abominable thing to happen, and so unpleasant to go through the ensuing legal wrangle when, as you say, an apology would have sufficed.

    a much smaller thing happened to me in a daily mail owned local paper who called me a hypocrite on the front page. it was so upsetting and you feel so helpless facing the might of northcliffe.

    unfortunately they aren't going to stop unless people keep telling their stories and speaking out against their lies.

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  18. Horrendous story - I'm so sorry this happened to you. Good for you for standing up for yourself and for getting a resolution.

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  19. Well done to you. You are a hell of a brave woman.
    They did a similar thing to me too. I have lived with 4 years of derision and scorn over a damning feature they did about me. I had neither the finances, the support or the mental stamina to fight them ( I had recently lost a baby and was going through some nasty legal wrangling over child access.
    What is it they say? 'Never let the truth get in the way of a good story'
    I applaud you. XXX

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  20. I have been reading the Mail for years and years but have noticed that it seems to have gone into Sun territory more and more recently. I won't stop reading it as it is a habit and I do enjoy some of hte articles though my main reason for reading, ie Ian Wooldridge and Keith Waterhouse, two great journalists, are no longer with us, but I have always taken their stance and opinions with a large doze of salt. It will be even larger now.

    Thank goodness for the internet - as a balance to the Mail I can access the Guardian and the Independent to see their take on a particular world/UK event. And oh my goodness they are usually polar opposites!

    I am appalled that this happened to you and well done for your tenacity and determination to right the wrong done to you.

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  21. Alas, having been a victim of the Daily Fail's "journalism" on two occasions: once when my first marriage broke up and they printed a lurid and utterly innaccurate story about me (I'm no celeb, just Jo Public), and more recently when one of their journalists lifted and printed a Facebook reply to their request for information (leaving out the bit where I told them I did not permit them to use or reprint any part of my post), I am unsurprised. I am sorry that they are allowed to ruin and damage so many lives and appalled at the lack of teeth the PCC has (I know, I've tried). I'm really sorry you had to endure all this.

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  22. First time I read such a long post and didn't stop. I applause Juliet to have stood by her principles.

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  23. This is a terrifying story. Well done for fighting. Though your story was entirely fabricated too often 'journalists' make the facts fit their story rather than the other way round. Not enough to hurt but certainly enough to annoy.

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  24. Wow. I know a frighteningly similar story. It's horrifying. I wonder about the state of mind of the people who can actually make this stuff up so callously. They must be humans, with friends and family - have they no humanity at all?

    You have my enormous respect and sympathy for what you've gone through.

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  25. Thanks for writing this - your fight reminded me of a big anti-discrimination case over here, except that there they had a lawyer who saw the prospect to win and thus took the case, and there it was the victims husband who spend the two years preparing himself, his wife and the lawyers.

    As for accuracy of the media - I suppose I really have been lucky this far. I've been covered in statewide and national media more than the average person and always came out ok. But then I had only one national tabloid in it, and there only with picture, profession and a number, so they didn't make anything up. But our one big national tabloid has been known to destroy lives and happily fights most libel cases until the cost becomes prohibitive for most people except the princess of Monaco, who wins some privacy rights from time to time.

    Again, thank for sharing your story.

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  26. Well done, Juliet. I always wondered how they managed to get those large, 'scrounger' families to line up and smile for the camera. Now I know. Rupert Murdoch may be Satan, but Paul Dacre is his Scumspawn.

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  27. You're a very brave woman. As an ex-Daily Mail journalist (years ago), I know from bitter experience that there are many, many people who have had the same experience as you.

    To stick up for the journalist you met (though I am very inclined not to), articles went out under my byline which bore very little resemblance to what I had actually written.

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  29. The Daily Mail is a hateful rag and not fit for wiping your **** on. It seems to revel in its role as a racist, homophobic printer of lies, half-truths and propaganda aimed at the so-called "Silent Majority". I applaud you for taking them to task.

    Whilst I approve in principle of unfettered rights when it comes to press freedom, The Daily Mail are constantly allowed to abuse these rights and by doing so they threaten the important work done by real journalists.

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  30. PS - I have posted this separately in case Jonathan objects to a new reader advertising her own blog and wishes to remove it - but you can see the post I wrote about this here:

    http://www.catherinegracehughes.com/?p=465

    Later posts like this one:

    http://www.catherinegracehughes.com/?p=529

    demonstrate the ongoing distress I experienced.

    Jonathan - I hope you don't mind. Please accept my apologies if you do.

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  31. I'm not shocked by the fact that they did this but good for you for fighting your corner.

    It's sickening that justice can only come to those who can afford it. I really want someone who has A LOT of money to be defamed in this way and take them to the fucking cleaners.

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  32. Jonathan, I hope it's OK - here is my post at the time:

    http://www.catherinegracehughes.com/?p=465

    And my ongoing distress is shown here:

    http://www.catherinegracehughes.com/?p=529

    Please accept my apologies if posting a link is inappropriate; I've done these separately from my original comment so that you can delete if you wish.

    Cat

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  33. Argh - sorry - dulicate posts. the first one didn't seem to go through.

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  34. Huge respect for getting something out of those immoral hacks. I've also read Catherine's story and I think we should always remember there are people behind every headline and we should not lazily allow ourselves to be manoeuvred into taking up a position on a story unless we have all the facts. I find wide reading of a range of news outlets helps me sift but I will never include the Mail after all of this.

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  35. Excellent post and a shocking story. What do you call 10 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.

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  36. Well done for not lying down and taking it.
    I sense the 'feature' may have been turned around midway through the process to suit the whim of the desk.
    Reporters just do what they are told - or get sacked.

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  37. Personally, I would rather be sacked than betray vulnerable people, ruining their lives and subjecting them to extreme distress and humiliation.

    I'm sorry, but it takes a certain kind of evil to be able to deliberately allow a vulnerable person to be caused so much distress that medical intervention is required. There is no excuse.

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  38. As someone already said, I shouldn't be shocked by the Daily Mail's blatant lack of anything approaching decent behaviour! Congrats for having the courage to stand up & fight (I loved your responses to their lawyer!!) and for sharing. One could always hope another publication would run your story..

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  39. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the wider public. A lot of people would've shrunk into the background against such an organisation so well done.

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  40. Juliet - wow. You had a very similar experience to me but had the strength to fight it. I similarly fell for the same Daily Mail clap-trap and replied to a response source from Diane Appleyard which I received whilst working as a freelance political PR. Though fortunately I think less people saw it, or at least didn't bring it up.

    As a teenager one of my teachers crossed a line and approached me in a club in a very inappropriate way. Unfortunately I didn't have the maturity at the time to tell him to sod off. The Daily Mail said they were looking for a real life example of a similar case of teachers exploiting trust to complement a news story. They promised to protect my anonymity, use only a very small picture and as one of a number of case studies.

    A week later a double page spread - taken up mostly with a picture of me - bore the headline 'Dear Sir, I think I Love you'.

    The quotes bore no resemblance to what I said and made it sound like I liked the teacher?! Instead of what really happened - a drunken shuffle in the back of a car and a feeling of abuse of trust and sadness the next day. He was one of my A-Level english teachers and we had discussed Jane Austen all the way back from the club to the car as he offered to give me a lift home safely.

    The Daily Mail is a hateful newspaper, in a position of power they similarly abuse people's trust on an hourly basis.


    I also had to chase the miserly fee of £400 that had tempted me into this filthy honeypot for about 6 months.

    Well done Juliet, I admire you and wish you all the very best.

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  41. Well done you for sticking up for yourself - I'm exhausted just thinking about the lengthy battle you've gone through, so I can't imagine how you must have felt throughout it!

    I took a landlord to court a while ago, and although it was far, far more minor than this, I know how maddening, frustrating, and damn unfair it can be when you know you're in the right but you're the 'little guy'.

    It makes me so angry that the Mail can get away with this - I was one of the people who celebrated when I heard libel laws were changing and this has really made me reconsider whether it's such a good thing.

    Sadly this just confirms further everything that I despise about the Daily Mail - it's worrying that so few of its readers know what a piece of s**t it actually is.

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  42. Yes, congratulations to you for being so resilient and determined throughout. What an ordeal this must have been for you. I hope this post reaches a wide readership, maybe through a broadsheet?

    I've avoided the ghastly Daily Mail for years. It's smug, biased and depressing.

    Good luck to you - and you're a great writer, very readable. Keep it up!

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  43. @Catherine Hughes: no problem with links if they're not spam or selling stuff, perfectly fine to link to something that's relevant :-) Sorry you had such a hard time with them though.

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  44. Good on you. I always wondered about these kinds of pointless 'cultural' articles in The Daily Mail and wondered just who these people they are interviewing are. Nice to see some concrete proof that The Mail are taking things out of context.

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  45. local_celebrity1 February 2011 11:00

    A truly admirable post. This episode may have been tawdry and traumatic, but you retell it with remarkable clarity.

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  46. Well done for keep fighting and never giving up! The Daily Mail sinks lower and lower with each passing year. I've posted this to my facebook account to try and spread it more so maybe others will learn what a giant snake the Daily Mail is in the media world.
    Thanks for sharing this with us

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  47. This story really is quite incredible. I have loathed the Daily Mail for it's politics and approach for a long time and am also ashamed to say that my parents read it.

    For me the Daily Mail is a paper for people who want to be told 'the truth' and not have to consider such trivial things as evidence or facts or journalistic integrity.

    I have such a huge amount of respect for you taking this against them and standing up for yourself and not letting them bully you into submission as they clearly tried.

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  48. well done and all power to your determination and grit - all bullies need someone with courage like yours - I know how that kind of work will drag you done, how thinking constantly and fretting can take a toll on physical and mental health so I say Yay for the brave ones and may the 'bad' parts of the press rot in that hot place

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  49. I seriously sympathise with anyone misrepresented by the Mail. Years ago as a student union welfare officer I was approached by a Money Mail journalist writing a piece on student debt. I had what seemed like a reasonable conversation with the journalist, talked about the burden of debt and typical overdrafts (all this long before student loans and the much worse situation students face today), and the increasing number of students we were seeing in the welfare office with financial worries.

    A couple of days later I had a call asking if they could send along a photographer, who came and took photos of me on the 'phone "as if you were dealing with a student's money problems" even though I pointed out we dealt with people face to face 99% of the time.

    When the article was published, my role as welfare officer was never mentioned, the average overdraft had become *my* overdraft, and I was apparently on the verge of jacking in my studies in despair. In the circumstances a photo of me on the telephone made even less sense than it would have if the article had been the one I thought it was.

    My mother's neighbour took it round to show her the day it was published and she was right on the phone fretting about me...

    So seriously, good for you for taking them on.

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  50. Good for you for sticking up for yourself. I, too, was the subject of entirely inaccuate and made up fairy tales a year ago by the Standard and the Express, whose only thought was for a sensational and bizarre story line to sell their papers. It is truly disgusting how journalists (I, like you, use the term loosely) can completely dismiss the truth of the matter and fabricate whatever they wish and feel no remorse as to how their lies affect other peoples lives. I wish I had the guts that you did in bringing your claim, but my business would have badly suffered (although I don't know how badly it has actually suffered because of the lies printed about me). Even my son phoned up the journalist and tore a strip off her, but no retraction was ever offered. I can't even read newspapers these days very much because I feel I can't believe a single word written in them.
    Good luck to you and your family.

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  51. Thanks re the links....

    I'm not sure if hearing more stories makes me feel better or worse about mine. I do wish I had Juliet's courage, though. And I am sorry, although not at all surprised, to learn of others' problems with this newspaper.

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  52. This post offers a clear illustration of how sensationalised today's press has become and you have my sincere admiration for having the courage and energy to stand up to them.
    I never believe what the papers say about celebrities, but now it seems that publications like the Daily Fail don't even tell the truth about the general public either!
    Will post this to my facebook wall so that more people see it. Thank you for sharing your story, people need to know about this.

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  53. How shocking!

    I really applaud your fight, but frankly, I'm not at all surprised. Like you, I saw another side to the Mail (in my opinion, ugly and right wing) which turned me to the Guardian.

    Well done .
    best wishes,
    Mary

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  54. Wow, what a terrible story. Thank you for sharing it in such a vivid manner. I rarely bought the Daily Mail but have made a resolution never to buy it again. That is not journalism. It is fiction writing.

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  55. Shocking. I didn't think the Daily Mail could go further down in my estimation but they have. Liars, bullies and inflamers of hate - and the biggest selling paper in the country.

    I'm going to start setting light to them on trains.

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  56. And they wonder why newspaper circulations are falling?

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  57. I'm surprised at the person who said they still bought the Mail and then read Guardian and Independent online... I'd personally do it the other way around, I wouldn't want to be putting any more money into the coffers of the Fail than I absolutely had to (and now with istyosty you don't even have to put any money in)!

    But then I stopped reading the Fail after that hideous Jan Moir article- I should have done so sooner and only regret that it took me that long to find out what a complete piece of tosh it is.

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  58. I can relate to your story, having been a victim of injustice. My situation was not nearly as damaging or as public as yours, but I have some idea where you're coming from.

    I applaud and I admire you for seeing it through, if not to the bitter end, at least to the point where the other side had to admit their mistakes. I didn't get that far; after eighteen months of fighting I caved in, exhausted, under the threat of horrendous legal bills.

    I saw the perpetrator of my case two years later, and in true British fashion gave him nothing but a Hard Stare. He had the grace to look uncomfortable, and I knew the moral victory was mine.

    I hope your life has resettled/is resettling to a comfortable level, and I hope you can eventually rid yourself of the bitter taste.

    x

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  60. Just when I thought my opinion of the Daily Mail couldn't get any lower... Frankly, the DM disgusts me, and it's appalling that people (like my own parents) who buy this paper are fed lie after lie after lie.

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  61. Amazing work, I don't think I'd have had the energy.

    Careful, they will probably come after you for this post.

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  62. You're probably sick to death of dealing with newspapers, but have you approached one of the less disreputable ones about telling this tale? This story deserves a much wider audience.

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  63. Can't quite take seriously a PR person who can't spell.

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  64. Wow. Good on you. Something similar happened to my wife Nicola, and it was the Observer magazine surprisingly. It wasn't on the scale of the defamation you suffered, but it still hurt. I guess the lesson is that tabloid and magazine journalists rarely recount the tale they hear, they have a story in mind they want to tell and they get just enough information from you to hang their story on and make it plausible.

    I too will never buy the DM again.

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  65. "It is tempting to start stories about the journalists/editors/owners who damage others for money." - Anon (31 January 2011 23:14)

    They go to great lengths to keep their business out of the public eye, which they can do readily enough if they agree not to tear each other to shreds.

    What they can't do is stop someone determined enough from doing to them as they do to others, though I don't doubt there will be a swarm of lawyers descending on the poor soul who tries.

    I keep the status quo by making sure I know where they live. I mean, who'd want me ringing their doorbell at four in the morning with my trusty Canon EOS in my hand?

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  66. You are a star. No less.

    I love your persistence in the face of the bullying power of these people.

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  67. GOOD FOR YOU JULES. The bit that really, really got me, was that even after all that they forced you to choose the pay out by giving you an ultimatum - your precious time and livlihood vs your personal integrity. They knew you had children to support. But, please don't apologise or let the fact that you took it take the sting out of your victory, it will have been that which hurt them much more, given all they care about is cash cash cash. Oooooooooooooooo they make me angry. Well done to you again.

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  68. it's chilling it really is. anyone can become a victim of the daily mail, the way they rummage through peoples lives means that if ever you have met someone who might hit the news - even if you just went to school with them 20 years ago - you are in danger of having your own life laid bare - facebook photos and all. for a paper that tries so hard to panic people about living in 'big brother britain' etc its completely ridiculous.

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  69. I applied as a case study, the photoshoot, the invasive questions. Took months to get my expenses after dozens of ignored emails. Thankfully the article never went to print. At the time I was annoyed but now I am thankful. I also work in PR and would feel extremely uncomfortable offering anyone as a case study for a client. No matter how large the exposure.

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  70. First of all good for you for fighting.

    Second, it isn't just tabloids like the Daily Mail which do this sort of inventive journalism, but so called quality newspapers like the Sunday Times. In the late '90s I was interviewed by a reporter from the Sunday Times. The resultant article inverted pretty much everything I said. This same journalist subsequently interviewed somebody else I knew at the time and essentially did the same. In both cases all attempts to challenge their story resulted in the same stonewalling that you describe.

    When this journalist had the audacity to contact me for another interview I just hung up on him.

    If further proof was needed of the shabby tactics that the media organisations in this country will stoop too, my wife was quoted by the Daily Express. Despite the only contact that their journalist had with either of us was leaving a message on our answering machine.

    From all I can tell "free press" just means journalist, copy editors and editors are free to invent whatever lies they want to.

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  71. I had a similar experience. A so-called journalist posing as a music promoter phoned to ask me about a chap named Mick Taylor, who used to be a member of the Rolling Stones.

    Most of my replies to her questions amounted to "I don't know." When asked how many people turned up to see him play recently (to an event that I organised) and how much he got paid, I told her, "It was a charity gig so he played for free. He's a nice man. He wasn't advertised as playing but had said he would come if he could manage it."

    I should have seen the warning signs then...

    When the story ran it was basically making fun of him because the other members of the Rolling Stones are rich and he isn't. He lives in a humble cottage apparently (although one that I couldn't afford to buy).

    I was quoted as saying that "he doesn't have legions of fans". And similar. Anyone that knows me would scratch their heads at that. As if I would use such a phrase as "legions of fans"!

    I complained to the editor. He insisted that all journalists identify themselves as such every time. And that his employee had done no wrong. In short, he was calling ME a liar. And as all interviews are recorded he could prove it. I said, Okay, listen to the recording then! He replied, No, I don't need to. I stand by my writers.

    I saw no point in contacting the Press Complaints Commission. This so-called 'independent' organisation is headed by the editor of the Daily Mail. Laughable.

    Fortunately, anyone that knows me would have realised what a pile of shit this article was and that I didn't say any of the things attributed to me. Fortunately, the man himself understands that I was duped and misquoted. And most people with any good taste in music don't read such trash as the Daily Mail anyway.

    But, seriously, it is about time the press had a truly independent complaints procedure.

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  72. You are so, so brave and I'm really inspired by you speaking up as you have. The Daily Mail wrote a really nasty, defamatory and totally fabricated piece about me a few years ago, and I didn't prusue it because I knew I'd never be able to afford to bring a case and I also knew the writer and that she was on the brink of being fired.
    I wish now that I'd tried, because if more people like you at least wrote to them, it would have an effect.

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  73. Totally shocking. I'm aware of the Mail as a mob-stirring hate-mongering fiction-pushing anger-rag, but this is appalling. I'm jaw kept getting lower and lower as I read this - as you discovered, there's really no way of undoing the damage done by a national. Thanks for sharing.

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  74. Well done. I hope people read this article to dissuade them from talking to the Mail (or other slanderous newspapers), or to give them confidence in fighting back if they already have. And I didn't even realise the length of the article until I scrolled up the page just now - such was the quality of the writing.

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  75. I once read an article in the Mail about someone I used to work with who had died in an accident in Newcastle. I knew the guy and I know his current boss. It didn't actually click that I knew the victim until I'd read the whole thing and checked out the photo, it was so far from the truth.

    The story portrayed him as a high ranking and very important transplant scientist who had been cruelly made redundant from his beloved NHS. He'd lost his job and his depression had soured his marriage and he'd killed himself while in a pit of despair.

    The truth was he was a long time alcoholic who had been sacked for repeatedly turning up to work drunk and incapable. He was a lab monkey and never had anything to do with transplants and his wife had thrown him out when he fell off the wagon for the zillionth time. He actually died falling from a height after climbing out of his flat window to avoid debt collectors.

    It's not even as if their story was more "interesting" except as an NHS bashing opportunity.

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  76. It's not just the print press, and it's been going on for longer.

    I recognise your story intimately, since in the late 1990s I was the subject of a fly-on-the-wall TV documentary. It emerged, after ten months in the edit suite, cut, re-ordered and voiced-over so as to tell an entirely fictitious story centred on a bumptious idiot who happened to have my name and face. Of course, they couldn't very well avoid using my words, but selective editing, taking them out of context and that all-important lying voiceover (right from the every first line, that lied about my job so it fitted in with the format of the series) took care of that.

    But it wasn't just me: the filmmaker misrepresented, manipulated and/or interfered with friends, colleagues, critics, strangers and even a prestigious bunch of awards for the sake of the story. When I found out that he'd been manipulating events behind my back, instructing a friend and colleague in dire need of advice and support that she shouldn't contact me while this was going on, I confronted him on-camera about the ethics of engineering your story as it happens, never mind fabricating if afterwards in editing. Did that scene make it into the programme? Ha, is the Pope Jewish? Do bears use Andrex?

    I too consulted with a lawyer about defamation, but in the end I didn't have the nerve. I did complain to the Broadcasting Standards Commission, who eventually rejected my 18(!) complaints so thoroughly and compliantly that at one or two points they threw out complaints that the broadcaster Channel 4 had admitted!

    Filmmaker Jon Ronson (for it was he), of course, went on from strength to strength, continuing to trade on the alleged reality and accuracy of his programmes and writings. Yeah, and I'm Aretha Franklin. But I won't say a little prayer for him.

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  77. Absolutely shocking. I hope your village has read this blog piece and feel thoroughly guilty - not least for buying the Daily Mail on that day.

    The financial terrors of taking legal action need to be addressed. At present, only the people that can afford to lose can afford to go to court.

    I had a similar 'money-or-conscience' proposition when I was made redundant in very dodgy circumstances. With a new baby and the imminent prospect of unemployment, I took the money. It was the right decision at the time, but it still haunts me that 'they' got away with it.

    I'm proud of you for standing up to them as long as you did. I hope life is better now.

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  78. Unfortunately the Daily Mail aren't alone in embellishing stories.
    Also the system of so called 'justice' in the UK is a joke. It should be re-named 'justice for the rich'.

    I don't hold with the public perception that all journalists are lying scum-that is simply not true.That said the above story is appalling and unacceptable.

    There is a simple answer-don't buy the Daily Mail! Do what Liverpudlians did with the Sun and vote with your purse.
    In the meantime, ask yourself why this song became so popular....
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI

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  79. This is absolutely appalling. I'm clearly not as good a person as you; if I'd been put through this, I would have tried to squeeze as much money out of them as possible! I agree that the apology would never have found it's way into the "newspaper".
    I don't understand why they didn't just find a silly woman desperate for 5 minutes of fame, rather than deliberately mislead and lie about you; it isn't as though there's exactly a lack of those types of women available!
    I read the Guardian, Independent and Telegraph, but do tend to pop over to the Daily Mail online occasionally for a bit of surrealism (and terrible spelling/grammar). I've always been aware that their content is largely fabricated and, quite frankly, a crock of sh*t. What's worrying is that there are people who do believe everything they read.

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  80. Wow, and I thought the anonymous "sports writer" at the Daily Mail yesterday should have checked their facts for calling Scott Parker the captain of West Ham United FC when the captain is actually Matthew Upson: It pales to insignificance beside your story, Jules.

    Good on you for sticking to your guns. As an online editor I've watched the internet fill up with ever more stories, often low quality pieces of shoddy, amateur "journalism" but the downright lies at The Daily Mail are just a step too far.

    It also highllights the fact that being at "the top of your game" as many people expect "Fleet Street" journalists to be, isn't always as respectable as those of us lower down the food chain might think. I'm glad I write for and about the SME B2B community, at least its impartial and honest.

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  81. This account of your experience is chillingly similar to one my husband was subjected to by the Irish Mail on Sunday less than a year ago. Nobody was served (apart from the sneaky journo who got a lousy few quid) by the stupid, pointless article. However, some very vulnerable people were hurt by its publication. In addition to this, progress was delayed on a very worthwhile project. I applaud your tenacity and am gratified by your eventual success. I wish you and your family all the best for the future.

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  82. Oh my goodness! And I thought the story they twisted on me was bad!

    I'm #Twitterbirth mum - the new mum they and their readers tore to pieces after so many mis-quotes and lies.

    Luckily I had such a huge amount of support from Twitter, facebook and my website readers that I just put it out of my mind.

    After writing awful things about me, thry even let a guest writer tear me to pieces in her article 'why I deplore the twit who tweeted her birth'

    Nice.


    Thanks for sharing your story!

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  83. My mum reads the Daily Mail. She says she doesn't read it for the politics. But what I dislike about the Mail is little to do with

    All newspapers take their angle on the news, reporting the stories that will appeal to their readership in a way that

    Of course I dislike it when stories are spun away from the perspective I see as fair and reasonable. But that's not what I dislike about the Mail.

    I dislike the mail as they play to their readers prejudices, their sense of loathing and hate. And because they go way beyond choosing their angle, into distortion and apparently making stuff up.

    People will point at the Guardian when the Mail comes under fire, but is there any comparison between the angle chosing of the Guardian, and the outright distortion and lies of the Mail?

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  84. I'm a journalist and I'm totally ashamed that there are journo's out there indulging in this degree of sloppy work. We're all human and occasionally make factual-type mistakes in copy but this was brazenly creating something that the editor had decided he or she wanted to publish. I bet they came up with the headline first and just filled in the copy to fit. Good for you for pursuing it. If more people did then publishers would put more effort into maintaining (i.e financing training and decent management) editorial standards.

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  85. The Daily Mail's fictionalised portrayal of Walney as some kind of ruritanian paradise is hilarious.

    I am also a Barrovian ex-city dweller back in my home town under similar circumstances. I regularly hear regurgitated Littlejohn-isms amongst Barrow's many Daily Mail readers. I wish they could read this blog post.

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  86. Thank you so much for taking the time to read the post and leaving your comments. It's saddening to see how many people have had a similar experience.

    With regards to the comment about the Mail coming after me for this post, this is something that I've been wondering myself, but all I can say is bring it on!

    The reason I pursued my claim so vigorously was that the majority of the interview was conducted via email as the journalist's phone battery died about 10 minutes into the conversation, so it was obvious to anyone who cared to look that I had been totally misrepresented.

    I still have copies of all the correspondence so would be more than happy to defend myself against every word. And if that were to happen then it's heartening to see I have the support of so many people, whereas before it pretty much was just me against them.

    And for the comment about spelling - I am aware of a few typos and they have been making me feel uncomfortable all morning! To be fair though, I did bash out over 4000 words in a couple of hours, give me a break! I'll ask Jonathan if he can amend.

    Catherine: I really do sympathise with your situation. If you'd like to get in touch with me, drop Jonathan a line with your email and I'll be able to give you moral support, if nothing else.

    Thanks again for taking the time to read the post.

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  87. I'm scrolling through all these comments, wondering where the further apology from the good Mr Dacre is? After all, as chair of the {PCC Code committee, I'm sure he;d like to re-assure us of his commitment to upholding the standards of accuracy that he and his committee seems to require of everyone else!

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  88. Get the name and address of the offending journo and post it online.

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  89. @jeff pickthall Ah, so you'll know exactly how ludicrous the whole 'village fetes, garden parties, eligible country bachelors' line is!

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  90. Journalists.

    Evil bunch of lying fuckers, may they all burn in hell.

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  91. Thomas Thurgold1 February 2011 13:31

    I lost a little respect when you decided to take the money rather than push for an apology. Sorry but what was the point in pursuing it if you were going to let them off the hook?

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  92. "Anonymous said...

    Can't quite take seriously a PR person who can't spell"

    Hmm, I read this once through last night before posting, and didn't notice any particularly glaring errors. I'm sure there are some, but that seems a rather mean-spirited and point-missing comment.

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  93. I really admire you for sticking it out. I'd like to say I can't believe how appallingly they behaved - but unfortunately I can.
    Thanks for sharing your story!

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  94. I will never, ever buy the Daily Mail again.

    Never.

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  95. A salutary tale, and I can quite understand taking the money, though I wish (for your sake) that you had had the energy to go for the lot, costs, apology and full recompense for the damage they caused you. Shame you couldn't get another paper to run with the story of how they make up stories.

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  96. @ Thomas Thurgold It was something I struggled with for a long time. Had I chosen the apology I suspected that it would have been too vague to have any meaning and buried where it wouldn't be seen, or, as I wrote in my post, not forthcoming at all in the hope that I'd just go away and forget about it.

    By that point, I owed my mum more than she could afford to be without. For me, the judge ruling in my favour and granting me leave to go to a full trial with jury was vindication enough. I had hoped, given the positive outcome, my local paper would cover the story and I'd be able to set the record straight but, perhaps unsurprisingly, they wouldn't touch it.

    I had to take into account my home life - I was still trying to earn a living and had two young children to support - and work out on balance what would be more beneficial for us. A hidden vague apology would have felt like a failure. As it was, I was able to recoup my losses and feel satisfied that I'd managed to stand up for myself.

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  97. I too grew up with my parents reading the Mail and when I left home I often complained to my husband that he read rubbish tabloids and he should read a proper paper. Those words stick in my throat now. The last 2 years have opened my eyes to the small mindedness and lies they print from being gay causes early death to bad mouthing the lovely village I was born in by some one who lived in a large house and never spoke to the locals so how could she have known anything about the?! (Sorry personal rant!)

    Basically they've proved they're a pathetic bunch who will say anything to sell a paper, no matter how rubbish it is.

    I'm really sorry to hear what happened and I hope that the locals can now see it was a load of made up lies too.

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  98. Oh blimey... it's a newspaper, what do you expect?
    With your background you should have known better!

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  99. Well done for standing up to the bullies and for using the Internet to strike back at them. Previously people in your position would simply have been brushed under the carpet. You would not believe how viral this page has got now!

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  100. I hate The Daily Mail too but if you think the Guardian represents a more independent viewpoint you are kidding yourself.

    www.blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100074031/sir-paul-nurses-big-boo-boo/

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  101. The people leaving nasty comments are obviously secret Daily Mail readers.

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  102. Oh, didnt you know about the low class trollop they write about 'high class' trollops?

    I buy it on a Saturday just for the amusement
    and the TV guide...

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  103. Every now and again, typically when on holiday, I buy a Daily Mail as a kind of treat, thus allowing myself an hour to harrumph at the bile it contains. The fact that is still sells so many copies every day is an awful worry. I will endeavour to do better. I've given up smoking, surely I can quit the Moron.

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  104. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Having always been someone who diskliked the Daily Mail and their absurd headlines it is interesting to read just what lengths they are prepared to go to in order to 'create' collumn inches. Well done on standing your ground, you did the right thing- it's a shame you weren't able to get your apology and I do hope the damage done to your personal life has faded with time.

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  105. Well done for sharing your story!

    I had a similar experience with a story about "my many one night stands". The majority of which was completely fabricated and the rest was taken completely out of context.

    When I chased the freelancer who did the interview to have my full name removed from the article (as I had requested) and to be paid the promised fee for my story (in every sense of the word) I was ignored, and it wasn't until I sent almost hourly emails to the commissioning editor that my name was shortened and fee paid.

    As a PR person I too should have known better, but the amount of artistic licence that the journalist used was quite frankly unnerving.

    Well done for sticking with it!!

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  106. In the 1990s I was a witness at a fairly high profile murder trial, reported in the papers. Since then, I have tried to make a point of not believing any newspaper article on *anything*.

    I think the Sunday Telegraph was the only paper of all of them that actually got the bare facts more or less right. Some of the fictions printed were quite incredible (and hurtful!)

    The problem is, as Juliet says, it's really hard to believe that the papers are quite *that* badly wrong, so much of the time, and that they care so very little about it!

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  107. Hi Jules,

    I understand completely why you took the money, as would anyone else with children to support and their reputation damaged beyond repair. Not really a lot of choice there, was there?

    My email address is posted on the contact page of my blog for anyone who'd like to get in touch. A couple of people have been over and posted messages of sympathy and support, for which I am truly, very grateful.

    Thank you.

    Cat

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  108. ... I really hope that nobody is reading this and thinking 'Oh, that awful Daily Mail, I'm glad I read The Guardian... Times... BBC News..."

    They are all as bad as each other and should be handled with very thick gloves.

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  109. When I ended my relationship with a past boyfriend 18 months ago, my friend forwarded onto me a journo request she'd seen on Twitter for a case study of someone who'd recently come out of a long-term relationship.

    I got in touch with the journo, who wanted me to lie about my boyfriend cheating on me, and to take part in a photoshoot showing me finding love again, running off into the sunset with a delivery bloke who was, the journo assured me, 'very fit'. It was for a product placement - I can't remember the name of the company.

    Admittedly, it was for a News of the World piece. And they were upfront with me about the whole article being a fabrication. But still. As an ex-journo, this kind of lying makes me feel sick.

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  110. Utter, utter fuckwits.

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  111. I find this story so ball-numbingly obvious, I want to punch myself in the the face. Repeatedly. It's the Mail. I hope this experience has shored up the participants career in rural PR.

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  112. Thanks to Twitter for bringing this excellent piece to wider attention. As a former journalist I recognise the 'might is right' attitude and casual regard for truth; this is the best advert for quality press in favour of the hypocritical fabrications our smug tabloid outlets prefer. Thanks again for a truly inspirational piece of journalism

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  113. Victoria: They are all as bad as each other and should be handled with very thick gloves.

    I really hope no one pays much attention to this kind of comment defending the Daily Mail's practices as just the same as all the other newspapers.

    People say this kind of thing, then move on to argue that after all, the only reason that a "lefty" hates the Daily Mail is its politics - really, it's just the same as all the other newspapers. This is nonsense.

    For example, all of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers - he owns the Sun, the Times, the Sunday Times, and the News of the World - have similiar standards: though a friend who worked for the Times said that there are still journalistic traditions there from the days when it was a great newspaper, which save it from being entirely just another Murdoch rag.

    The Daily Mail is largely owned by Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere, who is a non-domiciled British citizen, paying tax in France. Rothermere has said on the record, in the House of Lords, that the main concern he has about the Daily Mail is that it maintain circulation.

    That's all. That's it. He isn't interested that it shall be honest, useful, reliable, have a good reputation, support his party (though he does support the Conservative party, and the Daily Mail generally leans rightward) but all Rothermere wants from his newspaper is that it sell. He's the 51st richest person in the UK, and he wants to stay that way.

    That's why the Daily Mail is as vile a rag as it is. Because Rothermere wants sales.

    Yes, any offer from a paper to do an interview or a feature should be regarded carefully and the interview handled warily - but not many other papers would simply have outright made up damaging fictions about interview subjects just for the sake of sales. Trying to claim they all would is a defense of the Daily Mail's practices, and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

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  114. Well Done Juliette! That was an heroic fight against the evil behemoth. My best wishes for your personal future and I hope you and your family soon recover.

    Having finally read all the comments (whilst doing letterstuffing at work and losing the will to live) I note that there are an awful lot of people who have posted that they have similar treatment. If you think about the amount of people who read the blog that must be a high percentage and makes me wonder how many others are out there.

    I also wonder if people more clever than me can work out how these people could find each other and offer support. How can we reach the unconverted who still buy and believe the lies they tell?

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  115. Re: Product Placement

    The Daily Mail do this frequently you can tell when an article is a promotion for a company and most are in the Female and Health section.

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  116. Re product placement - citizen journalism is absolutely the way forward.

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  117. I never trust any journalists after a local paper, many years ago, deliberately misrepresented an event that I was involved in.

    TV hacks can be untrustworthy too. Some friends of mine were contacted by programme-makers wanting to make a programme about their business. But during the interviews the journalist was mainly interested in manipulating people to get them to say things that could be used as salacious gossip to make a more sensational story.

    A plague on all their houses!

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  118. Juliet - you're an incredibly intelligent and brave person. The Mail messed around with the wrong person when they came to you.
    As a B2B journalist, I often wonder why people who consider themselves to be journalists work for the Mail, when what the Mail practices isn't journalism or anything remotely like it. Must be the money, which buys out all corrupt minds in the end.
    I really do admire you for standing up to the Mail and its odious lawyers. To do this while freelancing and bringing up children at the same time shows amazing guts and tenacity. And the honesty and truth you brought to the fight was a breath of fresh air cutting through their vile, poisonous fog. Well done!

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  119. Excellent - Tony Benn takes three voice recorders with him to every meeting with a journalist.

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  120. good for you fighting like that kudos

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  121. Wow! That's amazing! I'm so glad you were able to get some semblance of retribution.

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  122. wow, agree with everyone above.. good for you. I will never buy the mail as I like to be able to think for myself and it's clear they are a bunch of a***holes!

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  123. Well done. We will keep the story current by posting it regularly on Twitter to remind people of the pitfalls of dealings with national newspapers on personal issues. I have had enough business information twisted so who needs your personal stuff manipulated.

    Good that it's off your chest now and hope that reading all these messages of support makes you feel proud, and justifiably so!

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  124. More power to your elbow Juliette and well done.

    It's not just the nationals you need to worry about. I wrote to the letters page of the Dunfermline Press to say how much I hated those ridiculously-decorated houses you get at Christmas with 14ft inflatable reindeers and the like. The journo phoned me and we had a chat. I stated that I loved Christmas and I loved Christmas music and that the only thing I didn't like was the decoration of some houses.

    When the article appeared I had miraculously turned into Scrooge. They even published part of my email address to back this up. I got some abusive mail and had the wreath stolen form our front door.

    I don't trust any of them and I wouldn't wipe my bottom on the Mail.

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  125. Can i publish this on Anorak?

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  126. Unfortunately, I've also been subject to a similar situation where I was contacted by an Observer Magazine 'journalist' called Lucy Siegle, under false pretences for an article she was writing.

    The resulting feature was a grotesque bastardisation of what our interview consisted of and what I was told the premise of the piece was. I was too young and naive at the time to have seen through her manipulative questions and consequently, didn't know my rights and didn't feel confident enough or able to make a real issue of the situation once the article had gone to print.

    Despite complaining a number of times, I was met with almost complete indifference from the editor of the Observer magazine and only pathetic, self serving whining from the 'journalist.'

    I still look back on the experience and taste bile so it is incredibly heartening to read this amazing story of someone holding a newspaper to account. At last.

    Their exploitation of people for the sake of a few column inches is beyond despicable and let's not delude ourselves now, some newspapers may be better than others in this area but fundamentally they are ALL THE SAME.

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  127. What I'd like to know is why did they bother to involve you. Why on earth, if they were going to fabricate the story, did they not fabricate the person too? It beggars belief that they felt the need to traduce someone in this way.
    Incidentally I went to a meeting at their offices in Kensington a few months ago. Tea and coffee were delivered to the meeting by a pinstriped butler. They really don't operate in the same world as the rest of us.

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  128. Gosh, this is awful. Well done you for having the strength to stand up to them! I'm a freelance journalist with a condition that affects my ability to find work. At the end of last year, having fallen on tough financial times, and having got to know a very nice and very responsible lady who regularly freelances for the DM I thought about doing a first-person piece for them about my experiences. The fact is, they do pay well, and when you're broke, the money's tempting. But I simply don't trust their staff not to mess with it, and articles like this enforce that mistrust. I skim the website from time to time, trying to think up neutral articles I could pitch to them, but all I do is come away feeling sick. I really feel for you.

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  129. What a dreadful story. My God but you have stickability. Good for you: a blow for fairness and truth. Welcome back to the rest of your life.

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  130. Amazing post - I've read the whole article and all the comments, which is saying something as it's my kids' bedtime! Just curious whether you ever went to the Press Complaints Commission? Or could the NUJ have offered any help, does anyone think? It seems awful that you had to go down the legal route, one on one against the Mail, without any other organisation being able to help on your behalf.

    Also want to add that I once had a legal wrangle with a media organisation. It was stressful and unpleasant... and yet their lawyers were always civilised. The bullying you faced really shocked me.

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  131. Am reminded of the following, very apt quote: "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."
    (Liebling, New Yorker, 1960)

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  132. Good for you - I try to point out to anyone who posts a Daily Mail link on FB that you can not believe anything written by the odious rag but unfortunately (and incomprehensibly) people still read the paper/website.
    If there is any way to facilitate other people who have been defamed/libelled by disreputable journalists to record their stories too then maybe there is a chance to show the public not to believe everything they see in black and white...

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  133. Just when I think the Mail couldn't possibly shock me any further...

    It's a shame we can't print up booklets of these accounts and slip them inside copies of the Daily Mail in newsagents, but I imagine that would be quite dangerous.

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  134. Just so everyone knows that not every newspaper is like that poisonous rag The Daily Mail, I did a very similar thing for The Times a few years ago - took part in an article about what life is like for thirtysomething women. I wrote to them in response to a little ad in the paper saying they were looking for people to take part, they chose me on the basis of what I had written, and then they sent a photographer to my house to photograph me. When the article came out, everything that they said about me was accurate, and I had actually said every word that they attributed to me. And the photo was great! Bless the lovely Times.

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  135. I'm so sorry you, and others who have commented here, have been through such unnecessary and traumatic experiences.

    Surely there are enough REAL stories in the world that they could honestly report, even ones that shore up their twisted world view, without resorting to pure fabrication?

    I, too, always wondered why these 'lazy, benefit scroungers' chose to interviewed about their lifestyle. Now I know that almost certainly they thought the interview was about something else, like how they are coping with long-term unemployment, or raising a child with a disability.

    I will NEVER let myself be interviewed for any reason by any of these filthy rags.

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  136. Is there any way we can start an online petition to encourage the government to create a genuinely independent PCC, with no influence from the Rags or Press at all?

    Surely, if the Egyptians and Tunisians can topple their entire governments through united action, we can push our elected government to stand up for the rights of those who are libelled and defamed purely to sell more papers?

    Just a thought for you legal types, and I'm sure you honest journos posting here would welcome it too.

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  137. Congratulations to you for fighting these scum sucking bottom feeders.

    I have had far too many years working with these disgusting people and have been on the end of some very sharp practices. It's one thing to brush off the inaccuracies, the made up quotes, the lies, the mendacious soul destroying ghastly-ness of their stories shoe-horned to fit an agenda when talking to third-parties, justifying it for the sake of publicity, but, to be on the receiving end is something else. And to then have to face down the low-life lawyers - the whole story made me feel nauseous on your behalf.

    So can we now please get rid of the PCC? Get a regulatory body that has real painful sanctions for the press and a process where they have to prove they are telling the truth rather than bankrupt any complainant by forcing them to law or dismissing them as an annoyance as the current PCC appears to do.

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  138. Should be renamed The Daily Shite, most people take at least one of those everyday too. I'm all for the freedom of the press - but with freedom comes responsibility, not thuggery as appears to have been practised here. Libel laws are weighted in the favour of those who have the most money. If you're an everyday person, the law says 'tough'.

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  139. How did we let journalism in this country get so bad? This story is horrifying.

    Respect to you for standing up to the bastards.

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  140. Oh you poor thing - I was sent this link by a friend and I am so utterly shocked by your story. I am an expat and actually used to use the BBC to keep up with the news, and the Daily Mail for a bit of tea-and-crap reading. After reading about your experiences I will never, ever purchase a copy of the Mail again. Thank you for telling your story, and what a lot of guts it must have taken to fight back as you did. All the very best of luck for the future.

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  141. I hate to say it but they are all the same. Your favourite, the Guardian is one of the worst. The BBC is pretty bad too.

    I have been involved with some prominent organisations, and have been targeted by an undercover reporter (from the Daily Mail, as it happens; she only said that our services were surprisingly cheap, even if she was trying to claim terrorists might use them, so it hardly had an adverse effect on business and we did not sue). I have known the inside track on a good few stories in the national press. They were all wrong in some major respect. Some, such as the story by the undercover woman (who was quite aware she dealt only with our subcontractor, but lied in the article) were too inaccurately reported to be meaningful.

    Probably the only one you will remember is Michael Portillo's homosexual affair at university. The inaccuracy is that it was not news, it was a well-known liaison, a trivial tryst many years earlier. Everyone at the university knew, years before the story broke. Damian McBride, Labour's mad, disgusting attack dog, went to Portillo's college, renowned for its affairs between male fellows and male students so he must have known. So where was the news? It was an old story, had no merits as news, it was a homophobic attack. Did the BBC take the lead on that one? Maybe I just heard it there first.

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  142. Name that journalist!

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  143. Two things:

    1 Name the journalist

    2 Sorry as I am about this wretched tale, most IT company PR is bullshit, just like....Daily Mail journalism.

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  144. Well done for keeping your sanity. Reading between the lines, it looks like you were close to the edge at times.

    I'm afraid that all newspapers are not necessarily to be trusted. I was interviewed by the Independent on Sunday some years ago, and after the phone conversation thought to myself 'Poor journalist, what a non-story to have to cover'. I thought differently the next day when her piece ran on the front page, misquoting me directly. This was then picked up and expanded on by The Mail, The Evening Standard and The Guardian. All of it based on a lie.

    I've taken practically everything I read in newspapers with a skip full of salt ever since.

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  145. Juliet - Thank you for sharing this honest, shocking and moving account. I admire your resiliance against the bullies. Something's deeply wrong when journalists can live in their own fairy tale world - free of morality or responsibility. A moral tale if ever there was one!

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  146. "Can't quite take seriously a PR person who can't spell"

    A lot of posts have been deleted, and the above leads me to the conclusion that the poster is getting a lot of flack over this. But why is she deleting them? Why does she only want the "good" posters posting? I did have sympathy for her, but now I'm wondering if she's the type of person to expect everything rosey. Life's not like that. Following a request from a newspaper you almost expect to have fabrication view of your story told, I'm sorry to say.

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  147. Well done. An admirable stand against a horrible publication.

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  148. Crikey, that's horrible. I could barely read the bits of article you reprinted it was so nasty. I'm impressed how you managed to cope, and hope your neighbours come across this blog.

    I'd always wondered why the people quoted in teh DM, Sun etc always sounded the same and shared the same weird manner of speaking. Now I know they are all the internal fiction of the hack involved, it makes far more (depressing) sense.

    - Ellie

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  149. Comment from Louise: "Following a request from a newspaper you almost expect to have fabrication view of your story told, I'm sorry to say."

    Pathetic, no you don't. You need to get a backbone like the poster of this article.

    Well done to Juliet for fighting this, British papers need some radical overhaul, and posting this sort of thing through social media channels is one way of bringing it about.

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  150. This is horrendous. Truly, truly horrendous. I was really hoping for an Erin Brockovich-style ending where they apologised, but then I forgot that it's only in the Daily Mail where made-up stuff is passed off as the truth. Very brave of you to share.
    Did any of the other women interviewed pursue the same route as you?

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  151. Blimey what a shocker - glad things worked out in the end. Certainly wakes you up to the ammorality of our media.

    All the best,


    Steve

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  152. I also had my words twisted by the Daily Mail, resulting in an embarrassing and untrue article. Now when anyone searches for my name on Google, more than 5 years later, the article comes up in the top few results. They paid me for the privilege however, which I saw as a way of buying the use of my picture and name for their made-up story.

    I’ve also been in an article for Fabulous magazine (NOTW supplement) and found the experience much more positive. Sure, they manipulated what I said to make it a bit more interesting but there were no outright lies or made-up bits.

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  153. This is a very interesting read, and confirms the opinions that I already have about the Daily Mail. However, I think you ought to be careful about what you say - under Britain's absurd libel laws, publishing something like this on your blog puts you at risk of being on the receiving end of a lawsuit yourself. Even calling someone a liar is considered libellous.

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  154. Outrageous! So glad you posted this.

    I'd be inclined to use a dictaphone next time. If there is a next time obviously.

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  155. It's always struck me that the main flaw of the Daily Mail isn't its notorious socio-political attitudes - it's that they give employment to so many atrocious so-called journalists. Liz Jones, Jan Moir, this sack of shit... I can almost understand them making stuff up if it advances an agenda or makes the story more exciting, but many of the inaccuracies here were apparently just the result of her being fucking crap at her job.

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  156. http://youtu.be/5eBT6OSr1TI

    Have a look at this, hope it gives you a chuckle...

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  157. Something similar happened to me. The message boards are horrible and there were hundreds of comments left saying I was dim and ugly. I was bullied into the story. The PCC (which their editor chairs) refused to do anything.

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  158. We're used to thinking all publicity is good, well, we do well to remember the saying 'be careful what you wish for, you might get it'

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  159. @Louise:

    "A lot of posts have been deleted, and the above leads me to the conclusion that the poster is getting a lot of flack over this. But why is she deleting them? Why does she only want the "good" posters posting?"

    Sorry, you're wrong to conclude that. A total of two posts have been deleted from this comments thread. They were deleted by the people who wrote them. Juliet is not the owner of this blog; she couldn't delete any comments if she wanted to, and she hasn't asked me to do so. I haven't deleted anything, I never do on this blog with the rare exception of genuine spam.

    I have a record in my email of what the two comments were and have no idea why they decided to remove them, but they were not critical of Juliet. Indeed, all the posts that were critical of her are still here, with the one you quoted easily being the worst.

    Far from "getting a lot of flack", throughout this comments thread there has only been a couple of critical posts; that one about spelling (for fuck's sake!), and a couple suggesting she should have known better. That's been about the size of it.

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  160. When I was the owner of www.thenappylady.co.uk, I used to do occasional interviews with journalists who were supposedly doing a "puff" piece about the benefits of using cloth nappies for your baby/toddler. However positive the conversation, the results were inevitably distorted beyond belief to fit some "mothers who use cloth nappies are demented" agenda. I guess some advertisers have a fair degree of financial leverage ...

    And just yesterday I did an interview about the pros and cons of home education, based on our own experience. Not for the Daily Mail, but I do wonder what the finished article is going to look like.

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  161. Juliet, I'm furious by proxy (the default position of Daily Fail readers, perhaps?) at what they did to you. I wish that the other three people had joined with you to make a sort of quadruple case against them. That would perhaps have made your case even stronger than it already was, and given you all enough strength and support to see it through.

    Their "quotes" make you wonder, though, if that journalist had ever interviewed anybody. They sound so unlike how a real person would speak that their readers must have the wool well and truly pulled over their eyes if they suppose to take the rag seriously.

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  162. I used to be in a scooter club at the start on the 80s, the daily fail sent a journalist up to the pub we met in to do an interview. The disbelief of the bloke who was interviewed when he read the article has always stuck with me. On the plus side, I learned that tabloid journalism is utter fabricated bilge fairly early on in my life.

    Daily Fail Reporter: So, do you carry any weapons or anything?
    Scooter Club Gadgee: Weapons?
    Daily Fail Reporter: You know in case you get into trouble or anything
    Scooter Club Gadgee: No
    Daily Fail Reporter: So what do you do if someone attacks you?
    Scooter Club Gadgee: I suppose you could hit them with your crash helmet
    Daily Fail Reporter: The Army surplus you all wear, what's that about?
    Scooter Club Gadgee: Well it's like cheap overalls over your jeans.

    This conversation was printed in the Daily Fail as,

    "scooterclub in their terrifying jungle greens, who use their crash helmets as weapons"

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  163. Well done for standing up to the system and fighting that nazi scum. They are churning stuff like this out everyday. If all of the victims had the courage and intelligence to stand up against them as you have then they wouldn't be able to do it anymore. You are a shining example.

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  164. There should be a fund to help people who have been libelled in this way. I would certainly donate to such a fund.

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  165. You can take comfort from the fact that people who read the article in the Daily Mail, aren't really the kind of people you want as friends anyway! You should be sniggering at them for having read the Daily Mail.

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  166. Jules, that is an amazing story of betrayal and bullying and it took my breath away. You see people reading the Mail all the time with absolutely no concept of the way the content is wilfully presented. To them it's fact because it's in print. All the blogs I read do more research in ten minutes than some of these journos do all year in the Mail and Express (et al).

    I remember a 'wake up' moment when I was in 6th form at school. Claire Rayner visited us to discuss sex education for a feature on Pebble Mill at One. The whole thing was managed with set questions and answers, then at the end she explained she had to make some facial expressions for the camera. To everyone's amusement she then spent a minute in silence just nodding, looking surprised, shaking her head and so on with a gap between each movement.

    I was quite excited to watch the feature on the television but the excitement was quickly replaced with surpise, and a sense of frustration, that the feature bore little resemblence to what really happened. On the television she appeared to be answering questions as they came up, and responding to us pupils with those facial movements along the way. It didn't happen that way at all.

    I remember feeling a deep need to make sure my parents understood that it simply did not happen that way. They weren't that bothered but it left me feeling somehow 'cheated' that the event had been misrepresented and there was no voice for me to set out what really happened.

    Of course there was no damage done and I was naive, but the event never did sit right with me and it ended up being more educational than they imagined, for different reasons. It taught to me to look a little deeper when presented with a story on television and, thanks to blogs like these, in the tabloids.

    The tabloids tend to shortcut that cynicism by introducing very emotive elements, especially a sense of fear or a threat. Once the reader is fired up emotionally it becomes much harder to remain objective, and then the tabloids push their vile agendas, which is taken at face value because reasoning has gone out of the window in a sense of simmering rage or a skipped heartbeat of fear.

    Your story brings home the coldness of the process and it's quite sickening the way they use and abuse real people, with real lives, to feed their gossip machine. The BBC radio programme last Thursday (see blog) had similar examples of people hurt - used then thrown to one side - by the Mail and its ilk. It's shocking that it happens, never mind that there seems to be no redress for the victims of the process. The country seems to be sleepwalking with our tabloid media and in this respect I'm reminded of the film They Live.

    I wish you all the best for the future, with this horrible experience behind you. There are lots of people who share your fight and support your stance in this. Unfortunately with the regulation and law as it currently is, I think your pragmatic approach to the outcome was the most sensible one, unsatisfactory as that is in so many ways.

    Thankyou for taking the time to write it and to No Sleep for putting it out.

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  167. Incredible. Well done you for sticking to your principles. How do the people involved (particularly the lawyers and execs) live with themselves?

    Anyway, thanks for your bravery in this matter.

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  168. Very glad to have come across this well-written article. Will steer well clear of the Daily Mail in future. I have notice the quality and ethics of their writing has deteriorated alarmingly in recent years.

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  169. Terrible story. Very well done.

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  170. A journalist from the Daily Mail recently contacted me through my blog asking for help in an article they were writing.

    I feel even more comfortable having read this that I deleted that email without even responding!

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  171. well done Juliet Shaw for striving so tirelessy to clear your name. These Grub Street hacks are scum really, with no principles or integrity. You clearly have both.

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  172. wow & I hated the daily mail before I read your blog post! They really are a bunch or ruthless muppets who only want to sell newspapers, with jumped-up "stories" (I think in the fiction sense) rather than reporting the news - I thought was the original purpose & mantre of a newspaper!

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  173. Good for you ! Go girl!!!

    Scum newspaper for scum readers

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  174. Just been linked to this from another website and I applaud you for taking this as far as you did.

    It's a shame that you and the other three women could not have all worked together to highlight this appalling case.

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  175. I don't have anything new to add to all the many good comments above, but I feel compelled to express my support (and say that you've produced a fabulously written article, too).

    On a practical front I can confirm that I haven't bought a Daily Mail in years, and I will do everything in my power to stop anyone I can from buying it too.

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  176. It's so funny that the high-minded Melanie Phillips uses the DM as an outlet.

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  177. "Louise said...

    "Can't quite take seriously a PR person who can't spell"

    A lot of posts have been deleted, and the above leads me to the conclusion that the poster is getting a lot of flack over this. But why is she deleting them? Why does she only want the "good" posters posting? I did have sympathy for her, but now I'm wondering if she's the type of person to expect everything rosey. Life's not like that. Following a request from a newspaper you almost expect to have fabrication view of your story told, I'm sorry to say."

    Hi Louise,

    I know Jonathan's responded about your 'deleting' query, but in case you hadn't seen it this was a guest post on Jonathan's blog so I'm not able to delete anything, and wouldn't if I could. To be honest, I find that idea the idea that I'd write a blog post about manipulation in the media, then manipulate comments in my favour very insulting.

    I'm more than happy to accept criticism, and have responded to negative comments here and on other websites. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion and I wouldn't dream of trying to change it.

    With regards to your view that I think everything in life is rosy, you couldn't be more wrong! I think my references to my previous bouts of depression confirm that my view of the world is not the most optimistic.

    And I couldn't disagree more with your comment that people responding to newspapers should expect to have stories fabricated. I find it incredibly sad that British press is in such a sorry state that people expect what they read to be made up nonsense. Why bother with it if that's the case? Read fiction instead.

    Finally, the comment about not being able to spell DID sting! I'm very pedantic when it comes to spelling and punctuation and I know there are a few typos in the post - they've been causing me more grief than any negative comments about the story itself!

    Thank you to everyone who's taken the time to read the post, it's very bizarre to think there are so many but I'm very grateful.

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  178. kezseralu: I, too, always wondered why these 'lazy, benefit scroungers' chose to interviewed about their lifestyle.
    There was a good example of this last year, when several rags published a story about a single mum on benefits who had (supposedly) paid for a boob job and designer clothes out of her benefits, accompanied by a big grinning picture of the woman gesturing expansively and holding a large glass of something that probably wasn't alcohol-free wine. Only in the very last paragraph were we informed that she'd run up over 10K in credit-card debt. That was undoubtedly how she'd paid for the boob job and other luxuries, but the implication throughout was that people like her were getting far too much money off the state.
    Whatever she was paid for the story couldn't possibly have been worth the public humiliation and scorn that she got.

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  179. What an appalling ordeal. The depths to which the Daily Mail sinks never cease to amaze me (even as a journalist myself.)

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  180. what was the journalist called?

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  181. yeah yeah, but was the doctor a good shag?

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  182. Yikes, what a horrendous couple of years for you.Well done for having the energy and tenacity to see it through.
    I always knew loads of the daily mail 'interviews' weren't real, as they all have the same tone and phraseology, but to actually read a story from the other side is truly horrendous.

    How people who exploit and even destroy the peace of innocent people for a bit of low-rent fiction can sleep at night is beyond me.

    I don't blame you at all for taking the money; what sickens me is a legal team who are as unscrupulous as their employers threatening you financially when they knew you were supporting children. Well done for having the energy and tenacity to see it that far.

    Sadly, I often have to buy the Daily Fail for my 89 year old grandmother, and I'm so embarrassed to be seen with such a horrendous sack of poop that I get the urge to hide it in something less awful. Like Nuts. Or Zoo

    Lizzie.

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  183. "The only men who worked there were here husband,"

    One "e" is too much.

    Thanks.
    -kdm

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  184. Both Associated Newspapers and News International have defiled everything they've touched.

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  185. I am awestruck by your determination to attempt to redress the wrong done to you (and all those that read this eloquent blog will surely agree that you have). I am also in deep admiration at your measured reply to petulant comments. I only wish I bought the Daily Mail so I could say I would never again, alas never have, never will. Hateful paper.

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  186. Oh man, that is an horrific story. The dark, dark moments you must have slid into whilst trying to clear your name. It brings back a latent rage that I've been trying to come to terms with all these years.

    The Daily Mail wanted to do a story on rich/poor divide and using an ex Page 3 girl (now divorcee/multi millionaire) a journo friend gave me the heads up that they were offering £500 to swap my flat with her penthouse for two nights and then be interviewed to share our experiences. I was so shocked to read the article when it was published. Absolute BULLSHIT and we both came out looking terrible - I, the poor, snivelling student living in rot and she, in the spoilt brat castle. Neither could have been further from the truth. The worst of it was the bullshit the journo quoted us as saying. Horrible, demeaning shit about each other. Awful experience. Worst this was that it took years for the online article to disappear - I think it has now, I can't find it. (Please don't look for it, I'd hate for it to come out from it's hiding place. You're not missing much - it's a piece of shit.)

    Now, obviously, my story doesn't even compare to yours but I do know that they have an agenda and they are ruthless fuckers.

    p.s. I found the journalist who wrote it, on Twitter, a couple of years ago and asked if she knew whether the article could be deleted from the internet as I was running my own business by then and her response? She blocked me. Charming.

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  187. Abslutley appalling that you were treated so badly.
    It just goes to show what a bunch of "Culture Secretaries" they are.
    I think taht you did fantastically well to stand up to them and at least get a little money. It's just a shame that you couldn't take them for a lot more.

    Nick

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  188. Myself and my brothers have been encouraging our mum to stop reading the Daily Mail for years based on its racist/homophobic/bigoted views. As a man who doesn't identify as heterosexual, it has been particularly distressing for me to see her continue to read it, given its openly homophobic stance.

    However, your blog post has finally put her over the edge and she made the call today to cancel the subscription. Although I would have liked her decision to have been based on the opinions of her children, I'm glad that she has finally seen something that's shown her that she will be better off without this execrable excuse for a newspaper.

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  189. I haven't read all the comments above, but did you not consider going to the Press Complaints Commission? Their sole aim is to arbitrate between an individual with a problem and the publication, solving the issue generally within 35 days. They can't generally fight for compensation on your behalf but they can fight for apologies and retractions. You could have fought for financial compensation separately as well at the same time, or afterwards.

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  190. Good for you for sticking at it.

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  191. I've seen this before on an artical in You magazine on a friend of mine, about 1/5 was accurate, 3/5 was made up and the balance was just danm lies. I shall be retweeting and facebooking this until my 2000 followers tell me to stop!

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  192. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  193. @anonymous 15.24

    The PCC? Don't make me laugh...

    They found that the article about me was 'accurate'. It reported me as saying things I had never said; the opposite of the truth. How could that possibly be accurate?

    Most of my dealings with them were conducted by email but, during the couple of telephone calls I had with them I was so distraught that I was sobbing; barely coherent and clearly deeply distressed.

    I sent them plenty of evidence to support my assertions. They ignored some of it and disregarded the rest. I challenged them to come and see for themselves who I was and what I have to cope with - they declined.

    The PCC are, in my opinion, as prejudiced as the papers that pay them. Self-regulation is no regulation at all.

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  194. We should name and shame. What was the name of the journalist?

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  195. Are you sure you're phone wasn't hacked too? I'd check if I was you then you might be able to get another 20k out of them too. Like poor Max Clifford, another naive PR burnt by the press...

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  196. Holy shit.

    I was interviewed a few years ago by a newspaper in Watertown, New York and having read this entry, as well as every comment posted so far, I'm now counting my lucky stars that the experience was as positive as it was.

    (By the way, I was linked here through a post on a Doctor Who forum in response to a discussion about the Daily Mail habitually lifting photographs and videos from amateur set reporters without credit or compensation.)

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  197. Could all you wronged subjects of articles collaborate on a website to show solidarity and have a forum for others to find advice, especially for others who have been approached for interviews? Libel laws are going to undergo a change during this government, and it would be good to show the viewpoint of the ordinary person who is practically helpless in the scenarios described above. Standards really need to improve. Journalism students learn about morals and ethics, but heaven knows where that goes once they need to earn a wage.

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  198. Wow, just wow, I mean, I'm not at all surprised, I know this stuff is 90% crap and pandering to peoples fears and their need for gossip, every other time I visit my own or my friend's parents I get accosted for being a lefty-liberal when the Muslims and brown-skins are taking over and we can't even do what we like in our own country anymore, it's awful, but you cannot tell them otherwise, they have no access to the internet and here it is in B&W, they couldn't just be making it all up now could they!?

    Well they can, and they do, and a million people get worked up over nothing and live in fear or take actions into their own hands because 'the police and politicians won't do anything about it', and it's incredibly damaging, and done purely to sell their crappy newspaper.

    VERY well done you Juliet and I applaud you for being so brave for standing up for yourself aswell as to put this out there, hugs for you and your family and I do hope you eventually recover from this, it must be horribly soul destroying to be used, your reputation destroyed, and then legally threatened like this, all over nothing but making dirty money.

    I shall send this to as many people as I can in the hope their eye's shall be opened!

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