Conman Foster complains to PCC over phone tapes

By Jean Morgan and Paul Donovan

The convicted conman who helped Prime Minister’s wife Cherie Blair buy two flats in Bristol has complained to the Press Complaints Commission about reports in three newspapers.

and the NoW’s bribe allegations

Complaints: The Sun’s Foster splash

Peter Foster, boyfriend of Mrs Blair’s style guru Carole Caplin, has complained that The Sun, The Observer and the News of the World have all printed inaccurate stories about him.

He has further complained that The Sun breached Clause 8 of the Editors’ Code of Practice by publishing material obtained by using clandestine listening devices or by intercepting private telephone conversations.

On 13 December, The Sun splashed on an account of Foster’s telephone conversations with his mother, Louise Pelloti, who lives in Ireland, and between his mother and brother Paul. The Sun claimed it had listened to tapes of the calls in which Foster “appeared to be touting his story for £100,000”.

The Observer and News of the World stories of which Foster complains appeared on 15 December.

The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales is also threatening to take the News of the World to the PCC if it does not apologise for running a story alleging that money had been paid to a paedophile priest to buy his silence.

The office of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor confirmed that he had written to the News of the World offering it the chance to “right the wrong”.

The commission has also been notified that a formal complaint will be lodged in the event of an apology not being forthcoming.

The newspaper had claimed that the cardinal had offered a bribe to jailed paedophile priest Michael Hill to stay silent. The piece alleged that the cardinal had used Bishop Howard Tripp, who is the area bishop of Southwark, as an intermediary to visit Hill and offer him £50,000 to remain silent and disappear into obscurity on release from prison.

The cardinal’s letter was sent to News International on Thursday last week, giving nine days for a reply. “We need to give them the opportunity to comment, but the cardinal’s advisers believe the story to be defamatory,” said a spokesman for the cardinal.

It is apparently the cardinal’s own personal decision to take the course of action prescribed rather than go straight to the High Court to sue for defamation. “Nothing has been ruled out at this stage,” said the cardinal’s spokesman.

A News International spokesman said: “We have received a complaint. Our lawyers are dealing with it and we will be responding.”

Jean Morgan and Paul Donovan

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