IoS: Wade found the article "deeply upsetting"
Daily Telegraph and Independent editors Charles Moore and Simon Kelner have received private letters from News of the World editor Rebekah Wade refuting accounts by reporter Charles Begley that she asked him to appear before her in full Harry Potter regalia on September 11.
Wade, who wants retractions, called the accounts "deeply upsetting". She said: "Not only are the accusations totally untrue, but the personal circumstances (I had left many friends and colleagues in that area of New York only hours before) make it especially distressing."
But The Daily Telegraph and the Independent on Sunday are standing by their stories and do not propose to retract.
Begley, who changed his name to Harry Potter by deed poll on the orders of the NoW, claimed that at 4.30pm on September 11 he was told Wade wanted him in her office in his Potter garb. He went "without broomstick or wand" at 5pm to find her and News International executives awaiting him, he said.
Wade told Press Gazette she had flown back from New York and "spent the afternoon mesmerised by the TV and desperately trying to contact people in New York".
In her letters, she said she rarely complained of critical coverage in their papers about her. "But there are certain things you can’t let people say," she told Press Gazette, noting that the IoS had not rung her to check Begley’s story, which had been specifically denied to the Telegraph.
When Begley went to an employment tribunal, his hearing for constructive dismissal was disallowed because he had not been employed by the paper for long enough.
She warned both editors – Kelner is editor-in-chief of the IoS, for which Begley wrote his story and for which he now works – that the reporter was a disaffected ex-employee.
But Tristan Davies, editor of the IoS, said he was satisfied with the veracity of the story. He has written to say he was sorry if Wade was upset, but he was entirely happy with the story and unless she was able to detail which allegations were untrue, then it was difficult for him to respond.
The Telegraph has published a letter from NoW managing editor Stuart Kuttner. Moore said: "As far as I am concerned there the matter rests."
By Jean Morgan