Daily Star editor admits headlines can “go too far”

The editor of the Daily Star admitted sometimes headlines “go too far” at the Leveson Inquiry today.

Dawn Neesom, who has edited the paper since 2003, was presented with front-page stories from the paper, including “Telly king Cowell is dead” and “Terror as plane hits ashcloud”.

She claimed to be unaware that the latter was removed from sale at airports in 2010.  Neesom agreed that the story was “overegging the pudding” and could have been interpreted as reporting a real event. The headline actually referred to a fictional event portrayed on a television programme.

Neesom was also questioned on the article “English Defence League to Become Political Party”, claiming the story had been run due to concern about the EDL from the paper’s “Jewish-owned company”.

The editor said she would provide the inquiry with pro-Islamic stories published in the Star, after it was put to her that the paper had an anti-Islamic agenda. She added: “We are not biased against Muslims”.

She described the Star as a “young tabloid” that relied on “eye catching” front pages to sell copies, and said the paper had a “certain style of writing which appeals to the readers”. She answered questions on the paper’s coverage of Chris Jefferies and the McCann family. An apology issued to the McCanns apology was printed on the front pages of the Star and Express in 2008.

Robert Jay QC asked the editor about the Star’s coverage of Katie Price, after former reporter Richard Peppiatt told the inquiry that the paper was “obsessed” with the glamour model.

She said: “I’ve known Kate since she was 17… believe me, she doesn’t need any help embroidering her life. She does that for herself.”

Neesom told Lord Justice Leveson that it was a “dangerous area” to have editors on a self-regulatory panel because of personal agendas.

She said the judge was “far more intelligent” her and added : “I know you’re going to come up with something very good”.

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