Sunday Mirror could 'offer amends'

The
Sunday Mirror is expected to use the “offer of amends” unintentional
defamation defence if the man it wrongly identified as a rapist decides
to sue.

Mirror executives faced an anxious wait this week to see
if the man wrongly pictured on Sunday’s front page as convicted rapist
Ioworth Hoare took action.

The mistake led to the pulping of
140,000 first-edition copies of the paper. But, according to insiders,
there is “no crisis” in the newsroom and no one has been sacked.

Hoare
was released on bail three weeks ago and attracted widespread media
attention because he won a £7m Lotto jackpot while still behind bars.

The
Sunday Mirror decided to splash with a picture which it alleged was
Hoare inspecting yachts at a seaside resort in the West Country.

When
the print run was already under way on Saturday night, newsroom
executives realised they had got the wrong man and decided to stop the
presses and recall as many first editions as possible.

But about
five per cent of the print run – 75,000 copies – did get out to
newsagents believed to be mainly in the Central, Tyne Tees and London
areas.

According to media lawyer Martin Soames, from DLA Piper
Rudwick, the Sunday Mirror could face a payout of about £30,000 if the
man wrongly identified decides to sue.

Soames said: “An offer of
amends would be their best move now and they would get away with an
awful lot less damages. If they did get a claim, they would have to say
they were prepared to apologise and pay a sum of damages. If that sum
was disputed by the claimant, it would be assessed by the court.”

Soames
said the offer of amends route would also would also result in a
“massive saving” on the legal costs the paper would have to pay.

While
the Sunday Mirror claimed it had tracked down Hoare to a bail hostel in
the West Country, sister paper The People ran a double-page spread the
same day saying he was living under police protection at a cottage in
the mid-Wales village of Dolgellau.

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