Sun settles with showbiz journalist over Harry Styles libel claim - Press Gazette

Sun settles with showbiz journalist over Harry Styles libel claim

Showbiz journalist Caroline Whitmore and The Sun have reached a settlement over her complaint about a story which linked her to young pop star Harry Styles, a judge was told today.

ITV Granada's entertainment correspondent accepted damages, an apology and payment of her legal costs from News Group Newspapers, the newspaper's publishers.

She had complained about a story which appeared in The Sun's Bizarre column on July 23 under the headline "Harry and cougar No 3", which appeared after she interviewed boy band One Direction in Liverpool.

During the interview, Whitmore, who is in her early 30s, was kissed on both cheeks by 18-year-old Styles, who was recently alleged to have dated another TV presenter called Caroline and a second woman – both of whom are aged 32.

Solicitor Julia Varley, for Whitmore, told Mr Justice Tugendhat in a unilateral statement at the High Court: "The Sun has stated that the article was intended as light hearted. However, some readers seemingly understood that in referring to Mrs Whitmore as a 'cougar' and linking her to Mr Styles, the newspaper was seeking to suggest she had behaved inappropriately by pursuing a relationship with a considerably younger man, notwithstanding her being a married woman.

"The Sun has stated that no such meaning was intended. Such reading was particularly damaging and distressing to Mrs Whitmore, since she has been with her husband for 17 years and married for the last two.

"The article has also been repeated and expanded upon widely by the worldwide media. As a result, Mrs Whitmore has been the subject of abuse on the internet, including on her Twitter page.

"This matter has now been promptly and amicably resolved with The Sun, without the need for proceedings to be issued. The Sun on 25 September published an apology and has agreed a settlement with Mrs Whitmore.

Other terms of redress including payment of her costs have also been agreed," Varley added.

Afterwards, Mrs Whitmore said in a statement: "I am delighted that this has been resolved and I can now focus on my work at ITV."