Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Sun's response to a front page lie

Here's The Sun's front page from yesterday:

The lead story said:

Generous Prince Harry treated complete strangers to £200 bottles of vintage champagne on a £10,000 booze bender.

The playboy prince splashed out the small fortune in the VIP section of his favourite Boujis nightspot.

Except, err, he didn't:

Claims by clubbers that Prince Harry spent £10,000 on vintage champagne during a night out partying in central London have been denied by St James' Palace.

The royal treated his friends and other partygoers to more than 45 bottles of bubbly last Friday at an exclusive club as he took a break from military helicopter training, according to the Sun newspaper.

A St James' Palace spokesman added:

'Prince Harry spent approximately an hour and-a-half at the nightclub, where he enjoyed a bottle of beer and a glass of champagne. Prince Harry did not buy anyone else any drinks.

'A friend of Prince Harry hosted the entire evening. It is not true to suggest that Prince Harry spent large sums of money at the club. The £10,000 figure is nonsense.'


So today, the paper published a very small, five-line follow-up, buried on page 19, under the headline 'Harry not so bubbly':

Focused Prince Harry last night laughed off claims of a nightclub champagne spree.

The Sun told yesterday how punters at Boujis in London said Harry, 25, spent £10,000 on bubbly.

Friends insisted he will save the partying for after he has passed his helicopter training.

One said, "Harry's the life of the party so it's easy for people to think he's getting the drinks."

A Royal aide added: "He's working incredibly hard so he is taking it easy on nights out."

It would be generous to call that a 'clarification', because it's an exceptionally feeble one - but one that probably means they won't have to issue a proper apology or more honest correction.

But are five half-hearted lines on page 19 really an acceptable way to retract a front page splash (with a whole page continuation on page five)?

Do they really think changing their description of Harry from a generous wealth-flaunting playboy to 'focused' is good enough?

Moreover, although they have removed the original, they don't appear to have published this 'clarification' on their website. That is not acceptable. They shouldn't be allowed to pretend their front page never happened.

This isn't a first for Prince Harry either.

A similar story appeared back in September 2008, when the Mirror claimed Harry had spent £5,000 during a drinking contest with 'US rocker Cisco Adler'. The Mirror's 3am Girls were adamant:

No amount of fatuous spin from Clarence House or Buckingham Palace will hide the fact that he's at heart a Playboy Prince who knows the price of a cocktail if not the value of civilised behaviour.

Alas, the next day:

The 23-year-old turned down the chance of a wild boozing match with hardcore rocker Cisco Adler at Boujis to get cosy with his stunning missus instead ... Looks like we caned it a little too hard ourselves.

(Thanks to dawnuptheroad, euonymblog, SoniaRothwell, DanielSelwood, PrimlyStable and 5cc.)


  1. I wouldn't even say that was a clarification. You could easily read it as Harry laughing off the incident rather than denying it.

  2. But that doesn't even say he didn't spend that on drinks. All it says is the claims were made and his friends say it's easy to think he paid for everything. There's nothing that's an outright denial like Clarence house issued. I could never work for a newspaper, I don't have a good enough grasp of weasily words

  3. And that's how they treat a Prince...


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