The Press Complaints Commission has judged that Reveal magazine was in breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice for an inaccurate story about TV presenter Vernon Kay.
The body said the celebrity and lifestyle weekly breached Clause 1 (accuracy) following a story which quoted an anonymous source suggesting Kay and his wife were having marital trouble.
The article, published on 3 July 2012, quoted a “close friend” as saying that Kay was “walking on eggshells” following his public admission that he had sent flirtatious text messages to other women.
Reveal reported the source as saying that Kay was "worried [his wife] will never fully forgive him" and that they were “living increasingly separate lives”. Kay claimed the magazine did not give him an opportunity to comment before publication.
Reveal said the quotes had come from a reliable source and stood by its claims, arguing that the comments "did not contribute any substantive new information about the texting incident relative to the details that had been previously reported and which were not in dispute".
Reveal denied that the article suggested the couple were living “strictly separate lives” and offered to publish a statement of denial on this from Kay. It denied it had breached the Editors’ Code.
The PCC ruled that despite Clause 14 of the Code, protecting confidential sources, publications cannot rely on this as a defence to claims against accuracy. It said that publications “should generally be able to produce on-the-record material to corroborate significant claims, to demonstrate that the individual concerned had a suitable opportunity to respond before publication”.
The magazine did not defend this but relied on the fact that the claims being made were “not new”. The PCC rejected this claim.
It said "the article had contained specific, and significant, assertions about the current state of the couple's relationship, two years after the texting incidents".
It added: "[T]he Commission considered that there was a strong possibility that readers would be left with the inaccurate impression that the claims were accepted by the complainant. The statement the magazine had offered to publish omitted a significant element of the complainant's position: his denial of the claims regarding his feelings about his marriage. It was not sufficient to remedy the issues raised under Clause 1 (ii) of the Code. The Commission had no option but to uphold the complaint."