Oops! It's a double disaster for Sun

Bruno splashes from Tuesday and Wednesday

Competition page cock-up that cost Sun dear










It has been a nightmare fortnight for The Sun. Two errors, one an editorial misjudgement and the other a sub-editing disaster, have hit the paper hard – in its popularity and its pocket.

The latest was the first-edition headline “Bonkers Bruno locked up” on Tuesday’s story of Frank Bruno’s admission to hospital under the Mental Health Act. It caused “meltdown” in the newsroom as complaints from charities and readers flooded in.

Ten complained to the Press Complaints Commission.

Sun insiders said it was almost as bad as the reaction to the paper’s coverage of the Hillsborough football tragedy or the topless pictures of Prince Edward’s bride-to-be, Sophie Rhys-Jones.

The first blunder came over a week earlier during The Sun’s £1m StarStruck competition. Editor Rebekah Wade suspended four sub-editors when she learnt that a mistake in laying out a competition page had cost the paper thousands of pounds as the number of winners doubled overnight. There are normally around 5,000 winners.

The mistake occurred as page changes were made between editions during the print run. A Sun insider said: “It means we have had to pay out a ridiculous amount of money to readers. They have won. It may seem trivial but it is very, very important because people trust you to get it right.”

All privileges for the subs were suspended while they faced individual hearings.

In the same week, a Daily Mail technical error meant it had so many winners in its million pound competition that they had to be entered in a draw.

The Sun made rapid attempts – strategic and financial – to retrieve its reputation after the Bruno fiasco. It changed the insensitive headline by the next edition to “Sad Bruno in mental home” – but the original ran in Scottish editions. Tuesday’s frontpage splash was the launch of a fund to help people with mental health problems to which it contributed a first donation of £10,000.

“OK, we did make a mistake,” said a staffer. “I think it’s a good thing that The Sun realises that. The paper is now going to stump up a lot of cash for those who rang us yesterday about how insensitive we were to mental health. When The Sun does a fund, the fund gets a lot of money.”

By Jean Morgan

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