Journalist who made up stories to address Leveson

A former Daily Star journalist who admitted to making up stories will be among the first witnesses to give evidence at a series of seminars being organised by Mr Justice Leveson as part of his public inquiry into press ethics.

The first seminar, being held at the QE2 Conference Centre in Westminster on Thursday morning, will consider the competitive pressures on the press.

Among those giving evidence will be financial analyst Claire Enders, former News of the World editor turned-PR Phil Hall and former Daily Star journalist Richard Peppiatt.

A second seminar on Thursday afternoon is titled: Rights and Responsiblities of the Press. Among those presenting papers at that session will be Guardian editor Alan Rusboirdger on ‘Why a free press matters”, Sun political commentator Trevor Kavanagh and journalist academic Brian Cathcart.

Peppiatt resigned from the Daily Star in March by sending a resignation letter to proprietor Richard Desmond and to The Guardian.

In it Peppiatt said:

‘Daily Star favourite Kelly Brook recently said in an interview: ‘I do Google myself. Not that often, though, and the stories are always rubbish. There was a story that I’d seen a hypnotherapist to help me cut down on the time I take to get ready to go out. Where do they get it from?’

‘Maybe I should answer that one. I made it up. Not that it was my choice; I was told to. At 6pm and staring at a blank page I simply plucked it from my arse. Not that it was all bad. I pocketed a £150 bonus. You may have read some of my other earth-shattering exclusives.

“‘Michael Jackson to attend Jade Goody’s funeral’. (He didn’t.) ‘Robbie pops pill at heroes concert’. (He didn’t either.). ‘Matt Lucas on suicide watch’. (He wasn’t.) ‘Jordan turns to Buddha.’ (She might have, but I doubt it.)”

Peppiatt has since then worked as a freelance for the BBC, Guardian and Independent and as a journalism lecturer.

He has also co-written a sitcom about life in a tabloid newsroom which is currently in production.

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