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tabloid truths

Shocking revelations at the Leveson Inquiry yesterday as a former Daily Star reporter claims some tabloid newspapers are not "truth-seeking" but "impact-driven".

Richard Peppiatt said reporters found facts to fit ideology and sometimes relied on assumption. Specifically, he admitted that he just made up his own exclusive that Muslims were dressing up as Sikhs to hide bombs in their turbans.

Other stories he said might not have been entirely true: Bubbles the pet monkey to give evidence at Michael Jackson trial. Chile mine to open as theme park. Angelina Jolie to play Susan Boyle in film. Mr Peppiatt said that when he was sent in kilt and with roses to ask Susan Boyle to marry him, it was not a genuine proposal.

This outbreak of honesty may inspire the Leveson investigators to reopen inquiries into some of the more memorable front-page stories from the Daily Sport. Such as, "World War 2 bomber found on moon" and the follow-up "World War 2 bomber on moon vanishes".

Other Sport headlines that may have been untrue: Double-decker bus found buried at South Pole. Hide and seek champ found dead in cupboard. Monkey lands airplane.

The British press was following in the footsteps of American supermarket tabloids. One of which, the World Weekly News, reported if perhaps belatedly: "Abraham Lincoln is a woman! Shock pix found in White House basement. Was John Wilkes Booth her secret lover?"

I must confess to stretching the truth occasionally. Mostly many years ago when I was briefly the wildlife correspondent of a certain couthy Sunday newspaper. According to the story, I would be crouched in a Highland pine forest watching a stoat get the better of a golden eagle in a battle royal. In fact I was sitting in the natural history section of the Mitchell Library. In my defence I would say I am allergic to the countryside. And no animals were harmed in the course of my reportage. The couthy Sunday newspaper, I should add, has since emerged as one of the more reliable publications on the news stands.

Unlike some others with less than subtle agendas who would have us believe that middle class motorists are being trapped in M25 traffic jams caused by asylum seekers driving top of the range Mercedes motors provided free by the Government.

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