The ITV Libel Payout That They May Not Have Had To Make

So, anyway, I’m the weekly cartoonist for the British right wing libertarian political blog Guido Fawkes. It’s quite popular.

Guido has a reputation for breaking all sorts of stories in a rather monstering and tabloid fashion. One of those of late was that ITV had accidentally broadcast the names of certain prominent Conservative politicians being accused of being paedophiles. In the light of a now-discredited BBC Newsnight report, ITV presenter Philip Schofield passed a list of Conservative politicians to Prime Minister David Cameron during an interview, much to Cameron’s chagrin.

Guido Fawkes broke the story that in the HD footage of that piece, you could make out the names of the individuals, later exonerated. He ran a blurred out snap of the scene in question. The HD footage was then pulled from the ITV Player, and the ITV+1 repeat an hour later, No 10 addressed the issue condemning the action, Schofield was reported to government body OFCOM, hours later ITV were forced to apologise and in subsequent weeks after the truth about the allegations came out, would have to pay a six figure sum for doing so.

It was Guido’s biggest traffic story of the year. Except…

The names were certainly on the card that flashed its front to the camera for a split second. But could you actually see them? Even in HD? I lunched with Paul Staines of Guido Fawkes the other week and he confessed that actually you couldn’t really make out the names. His intern thought you could make out a name, but at best you could see a letter ‘L’ and a series of blurs. At 5pm that day, after the Prime Minister’s speech and the ITV apology, the Sun newspaper called Guido asking for the footage they had, because The Sun also had HD video footage. But couldn’t see it the names. Paul coughed to bluffing it “in the grand tradition of Kelvin MacKenzie” a previous Sun editor with a reputation for running the best story, regardless of the actualite…

Did no one at ITV check the footage before apologising? Or agreeing to pay out such a large sum? Possibly not…

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