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Very few people really know who a journalist is. Unless you’re one of the famous personalities like Jeremy Clarkson or Piers Morgan nobody really pays the slightest bit of interest.

One of the lower profiles to give evidence at the Leveson Inquiry was Richard Peppiatt. He didn’t have the celebrity to garner front-page news level of attention but he may have been one of the bigger stories to come to light so far. The tabloids barely put wrote about him at all, but that was for a different reason altogether.

Peppiatt was a ‘journalist’ at the Daily Star, he fell in to the role of a tabloid journalist and was asked to do some wildly unethical things to get stories, things he now regrets, and things he now campaigns against.

“I’m certainly very repentant in the way I conducted journalism.”

Peppiatt spoke to a enthralled Coventry Conversation audience on Thursday about the thing’s he’d done, what giving evidence was like, death threats linked to his former employer and that famous letter of resignation.

The famous Press Baron of the early 20th Century, Lord Northcliff once said, “News is what someone, somewhere wants to suppress, everything else is just advertising.” According to the ex-Star “The tabloid culture is; seeking out the truth is not an objective. It’s a matter of how aggressively can we frame this story to make the most impact.”

It is for this reason the Select Committee for Culture, media and sport interviewed and re-interviewed nearly every member of the News of the World management, it is why the PCC is on its last legs, and it is for this reason the Leveson Inquiry is being taken seriously to the majority who aren’t in the tabloid media or the Mail.

The reason Peppiatt left was originally due to the anti-Muslim undertones the majority of the Star’s content, but the racism didn’t just stop at Muslims. “Black on black killing were called BOB-slaying behind closed doors. If a young, attractive, white woman with blonde hair gets murdered, that’ll get more coverage than a young black male. When they do write about them, it’s more of a caricature. That’s tabloid journalism, creating the caricature.”

In his resignation letter he openly stated the reasons for his departure and this may have indeed upset people at the top. “I started getting death threats saying ‘you’re a marked man til the day you die’ or that ‘Richard Desmond will get you’. This isn’t confirmed to be anyone that works for the paper but Peppiatt did say it was a person linked to the tabloid world.

For everything Richard Peppiatt did as a journalist for the Daily Star; from proposing to Susan Boyle, just for the photograph, to writing hurtful content about the death of Matt Lucas’ former husband, and even being ambushed by anti-terror police when he pretended to be a Muslim woman dressed in a full veil, this is certainly no way to treat a former employee.

“Some days we would have three people writing the entire newspaper”, an average reader would never know this. Included in that day’s content would be un-edited press releases, articles written under pseudo-names (look up the name Laura Neil and you’ll see some of Peppiat’s work), reworded news from the Daily mail and fake headlines “Simon Cowell is dead”.

“When I first got there, I thought, it’s a break on to Fleet Street, because everybody wants to work for the Guardian but not everybody can”.

As the Leveson Inquiry rumbles on even Guardian journalists will have to reveal some ‘underhand’ tactics they used to get some of their stories. As David Leigh put it at his evidence hearing “I don’t hack phones normally. I have never done anything like that since. I’d never done anything like that before. On that particularly small occasion, this minor incident did seem to be perfectly ethical.” This level of ethicality seemingly never translated to Peppiatt’s view when inside the Daily Star.

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