Fleet Street Blues offline after Tulisa sex tape libel claim

The journalism blog Fleet Street Blues appears to have gone offline after being sued for libel by one the UK's biggest celebrity PR agencies, Press Gazette can reveal.

An article which appeared on the blog last Friday about PR ethics, which was quickly removed, claimed X-Factor star Tulisa's PR firm Hackford Jones had issued a statement denying she appeared in a sex tape being circulated on the internet.

The claim was made in a blog post on the wider subject of PRs lying to the press and Hackford Jones was not directly named. The company's founder Simon Jones confirmed to Press Gazette that defamation action was now being pursued by its lawyers.

Since Friday visitors to the Fleet Street Blues blog have been told it is now open to invited readers only, and the anonymous journalist behind the blog has not yet responded to Hackford Jones's lawyers.

'It was some pretty outlandish claims on the blog,'Jones told Press Gazette. 'At the end of the day we all work in the media and mistakes are always made, but the point is I'm happy to hold up my hands if I've made a mistake but I'm not happy to be accused of something I haven't done.

'This whole scenario with regard to this Tulisa sex tape denial comes out of the fact that people mistakenly attributed a quote to me with regard to the sex tape that wasn't issued.

'The sex tape came out on Sunday online and from the moment it came online all we did was issue no comment.

'We obviously had a barrage of media calls all day Monday and all day Tuesday, and we said to all media that were not making any comment whatsoever.

'There was no denial issued at any point about that sex tape and then Tulisa posted her own response to it on the Wednesday night."

Jones said that the ‘denial' referred to by Fleet Street Blues was issued in August in reference to a separate story about Tulisa that appeared in The Sun.

He told Press Gazette: 'The whole blog was saying basically PRs who lie should be hauled in front of the Leveson Inquiry and there should be some kind of list put together where you should be struck off the PR list if you're found out to be lying."

He added that 'if the journalist in question who wrote the blog had bothered to check'they would have found Hackford Jones was issuing no comment at the time.

'Once that video came to light we're hardly going to be issuing denials that it was her, it's clearly her on the sex tape,'he said.

While Hackford Jones was not directly named in the article, Jones said that 'everyone in the industry knows that I look after Tulisa and it's an industry blog".

'The thing I take most affront to is we feel our reputation is on not lying to the media at all and we stand very strongly against lying to the media… so to be pulled out as a poster boy for PRs who lie, it really galled me,'he added.

Press Gazette can also reveal that legal action is being taken against Sky News over a blog post claiming Tulisa had committed perjury when she obtained an injunction banning publication of the sex tape.

Jones said the article alleged Tulisa was granted an injunction based on a denial it was her in the sex tape, when it was in fact granted on privacy grounds.

'There's been so much misreporting around this case which is funny in a way because in this age of Leveson when you think that everyone should be fact checking, even today people are still running stories based on hearsay,'said Jones.

'We very rarely take legal action in our profession", he said, adding: 'There seems to be so much rubbish written about this Tulisa story that you do get to the point where you think, ‘I'm sorry I have to set the record straight.'"

Press Gazette has emailed Fleet Street Blues for a response but has yet to receive one.

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk


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