Closer magazine ‘exaggerated’ and ‘distorted’ a real-life feature about drinking during pregnancy, the Press Complaints Commission ruled today.
The Bauer Media weekly was found to have committed a “serious breach” of the accuracy clause in the editors’ code of practice in a story based on an interview with new mother Alicia Singh.
Singh complained to the PCC that some of the information she gave in the interview, in which she discussed how she had not known she was pregnant before giving birth, had been exaggerated by the magazine.
The published story, which appeared last November, was accompanied by the headline: “I was drunk when I went into labour”.
Singh admitted she had drunk alcohol while pregnant, sometimes excessively, but she said the Closer write-up exaggerated the scale of her drinking.
She also claimed the magazine had distorted her comments about her son’s conception and her feelings towards him when he was born.
Closer stood by its story and provided a transcript of its interviews, and a subsequent tape recording.
But the PCC found the transcript did not include some of the direct quotes included in the article.
The magazine said its journalist had drawn on other unrecorded conversations, although Singh denied these had taken place.
In its ruling, the PCC found that Closer had fabricated some of the direct quotes in the article and, in doing so, distorted the story.
“The Commission accepts that, in the preparation of real-life stories, magazines will often edit considerable amounts of material to present the story in a readable way,” it said.
“However, it is important that in doing so the information is not significantly distorted.
“In this instance, the magazine had exaggerated a number of important points – particularly relating to the complainant’s drinking, but also her recollection of the child’s conception and how she felt about him on birth.
“In doing so, it had also fabricated some of the direct quotes from the complainant. The effect of this was to distort the story in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy).
“This serious breach of the Code was compounded by the provision of inaccurate transcripts to the Commission, about which the Commission wished publicly to express its concern.”