ITV journalist Caroline Whitmore, an entertainment correspondent with the network’s ITV Granada news team in the North West, has settled a libel action with The Sun over a gossip piece that implied she was pursuing a relationship with One Direction’s Harry Styles.
The paper’s Bizarre section reported that, after being interviewed by the 34 year old ITV reporter, eighteen year old Styles kissed her on both cheeks. Alluding to the boy band star’s past relationships with women somewhat older than himself, The Sun ran a suggestive piece headlined “Harry and Cougar No 3″.
Whitmore’s legal rep said that the piece was “particularly damaging and distressing” to her client, partly because of the impact such implications had on the reporter’s husband and family, and partly because it left her open to endless internet abuse from those loons who buy 1D records.
The Sun said that it intended the article to be tongue-in-cheek, and not to be taken too seriously. However, Whitmore’s lawyer said “some readers seemingly understood that in referring to Mrs Whitmore as a ‘cougar’ and linking her to Mr Styles, the newspaper was seeking to suggest she had behaved inappropriately by pursuing a relationship with a considerably younger man, notwithstanding her being a married woman”.
Whitmore pursued a libel claim in response to the July gossip piece, but that was settled this week. The terms of the settlement are not known, though the tabloid has already published an apology. Whitmore said in a statement yesterday: “I am delighted that this has been resolved and I can now focus on my work at ITV”.