The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Yes. I actually -- this happened several years ago and I only wrote it up for the British Journalism Review this year. It's just a short piece but it happened several years ago where a very well-known singer, I won't even give the gender let alone the name, moved into our street and within a few months there was a knock on the door, there was a woman standing at the door who asked if it was true that this celebrity lived in our street and rather unthinkingly I just said, "Yes", and they then asked which number, and which point I sort of gathered my wits and said, "Are you a journalist?" and she said, "Yes". I think I asked which newspaper but I can't remember what they said.

Anyway, I then said, "I'm sorry, I'm not helping". I put a note through the door of the celebrity, saying, "I think there's some journalist after you" and actually talked to a couple of neighbours subsequently who said that in fact this woman and an accomplice were hanging around in a car for hours trying to catch a photo.

The point that I've made in the piece that I wrote is -- and I think this is crucial -- this particular celebrity, who is a platinum-album-selling artist and has given enormous pleasure to millions of people around the world, had never sought personal publicity, has never done anything wrong, has never done any deals with Hello magazine. There is absolutely nothing that one can point to in their private life that one might argue is in the public interest to be exposed, but there was a rumour going around that they were having a relationship with a sporting celebrity, and it was no more than a rumour, and in fact an article to that effect then appeared in a newspaper a few days later, most of it entirely fabricated.

At the time, I was sort of rather disappointed with myself that I hadn't gone up to these people and said, "What do you think you're doing and why are you doing it?" I wish I had. But it was just a very good personal example of the attraction of celebrities and show business for no reason other than they make good stories.

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