Richard Peppiatt is a journalist who used to write articles for Richard Desmond’s Daily Star. I say “used to write” because Mr Peppiatt handed in his resignation letter this week – and what a resignation letter it was!
Addressed to Mr Desmond himself, the letter excoriates the proprietor for the Star’s anti-Muslim agenda and its habit of fabricating celebrity stories. This he knows because, he claims, he was personally involved in writing and contributing to many such stories.
Richard Peppiatt admits producing a number of entirely fictional stories about celebrities during his two years at the tabloid, a practice he implies was sanctioned by his seniors. The reporter, who was once made to dress up in a burqa, now accuses the paper of inciting racial tensions and Islamophobia.
“You may have heard the phrase ‘the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas’,” Peppiatt wrote in his letter to Desmond, seen by the Guardian.
“Well, try this: ‘The lies of a newspaper in London can get a bloke’s head caved in down an alley in Bradford.’ If you can’t see that words matter, you should go back to running porn magazines.”
Peppiatt says that he was moved to resign from the Star after it threw its support behind the English Defence League:
The decision came inside my local newsstand, whilst picking up the morning papers. As I chatted with Mohammed, the Muslim owner, his blinking eyes settled on my pile of print, and then, slowly, rose to meet my face.
“English Defence League to become a political party” growled out from the countertop.
Squirming, I abandoned the change in my pocket and flung a note in his direction, the clatter of the till a welcome relief from the silence that had engulfed us. I slunk off toward the tube.
If he was hurt that my 25p had funded such hate-mongering, he’d be rightly appalled that I’d sat in the war cabinet itself as this incendiary tale was twisted and bent to fit an agenda seemingly decided before the EDL’s leader Tommy Robinson had even been interviewed.
Asked if his group were to become a political party I was told the ex-BNP goon had replied: “Not for now.”
Peppiatt mentions the “Muslim-only loos” story from last July in the letter, saying:
A newsworthy tale were said toilets Muslim-only. Or taxpayer-funded. Undeterred by the nuisance of truth, we omitted a few facts, plucked a couple of quotes, and suddenly anyone would think a Rochdale shopping centre had hired Osama Bin Laden to stand by the taps, handing out paper towels.
I was personally tasked with writing a gloating follow-up declaring our postmodern victory in “blocking” the non-existent Islamic cisterns of evil.
He also adds:
Daily Star favourite Kelly Brook recently said in an interview: “I do Google myself. Not that often, though, and the stories are always rubbish. “There was a story that I’d seen a hypnotherapist to help me cut down on the time I take to get ready to go out. Where do they get it from?”
Maybe I should answer that one. I made it up. Not that it was my choice; I was told to. At 6pm and staring at a blank page I simply plucked it from my arse. Not that it was all bad. I pocketed a £150 bonus. You may have read some of my other earth-shattering exclusives.
‘Michael Jackson to attend Jade Goody’s funeral’. (He didn’t.) ‘Robbie pops ‘pill at heroes concert’. (He didn’t either.) ‘Matt Lucas on suicide watch’. (He wasn’t.) ‘Jordan turns to Buddha.’ (She might have, but I doubt it.)
In response to Peppiatt’s letter, the Star has understandably gone into damage limitation mode and has issued the following statement:
Richard Peppiatt worked purely as a casual reporter at the Daily Star for almost two years. Recently he became unhappy after he was passed over for several staff positions. He refers to a Kelly Brook story: in fact, he approached and offered the newspaper that story, vouched for its accuracy, and then asked for and received an extra freelance fee for doing so. Since he wrote his email we have discovered that he was privately warned very recently by senior reporters on the paper after suggesting he would make up quotes. Regarding the allegations over the paper’s coverage of Islam, he was only ever involved in a very minor way with such articles, and never voiced either privately or officially any disquiet over the tone of the coverage. For the record, the Daily Star editorial policy does not hold any negativity towards Islam and the paper has never, and does not endorse, the EDL.
The Star’s claim that it “does not hold any negativity towards Islam” is particularly laughable.
Referring to the Star’s claim that he was “purely a casual reporter”, Peppiatt tweeted:
The incredible letter, which really does deserve to be read in full, essentially proves what blogs like mine have been saying for a while.
That is that the Daily Star consists mainly of needlessly biased or entirely fabricated stories written to demonise Muslims and Islam, sandwiches between equally dishonest and misleading stories about celebrities – especially the Star’s favourite, Jordan (not the country).
It will be most interesting indeed to see how this plays out. Especially to see if and how it’s covered by the rest of the media, many of which I believe indulge in the same kind of tactics…