Byline Investigates has today reported that The Sun newspaper effectively blackmailed Phillip Schofield into revealing his sexuality by threatening to run a report on the fact he was gay unless Mr Schofield co-operated with the newspaper for an interview.
The report alleges that Victoria Newton, the new editor-in-chief at The Sun, who has been linked to historic allegations of phone hacking and unlawful use of private investigators, personally oversaw the arrangements which led to The Sun’s interview with Mr Schofield, which was the presenter’s first non-broadcast interview about his sexuality.
Kyle Taylor, Director of Hacked Off, said:
“Relying on blackmail to force people with no record of wrongdoing to reveal personal and intimate details of their private lives is gutter journalism of the lowest order.
“It is impossible to know how common this practice is, as the power of the press leaves victims feeling they have no option but to cooperate with newspapers’ bullying tactics. Gareth Thomas and Layla Moran, who were blackmailed by newspapers over their HIV status and sexuality respectively, are rare examples to the contrary. Former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Simon Hughes also accused The Sun of blackmail at the Leveson Inquiry, after his phone records were allegedly illegally obtained, showing a pattern of this misconduct that stems back more than a decade with no signs of changing without proper accountability. None of these cases were backed up by a shred of public interest justification.
“It is particularly regrettable that newspapers like The Sun stand accused of pouring resources into revealing innocent celebrities’ private lives, which could have been spent funding investigations into corruption and wrong-doing. This whole attitude disgraces the industry and shows contempt for the traditions and principles of quality journalism.”
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