Three tabloid newspapers have been secretly filmed at meetings they thought were concerned with the possible purchase of private medical information about public figures who had undergone cosmetic surgery.
The Sunday Mirror, News of the World and People were caught in the sting after they were approached by an undercover documentary-maker. He claimed to have a contact working as an administrative nurse in what was in fact a fictitious cosmetic surgery clinic.
The newspapers were offered the chance to obtain confidential medical information about famous clients of the clinic, including actors Hugh Grant, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans and Ricky Gervais. There is no evidence any of the celebrities received consultations for surgery, and the filmmaker, Chris Atkins, said he came up with the hoax to test “how far tabloid journalists are prepared to go” in pursuit of intrusive information.
The response of three tabloids, which sent journalists to meet the undercover documentary-maker, ranged from cautious expressions of interest to an offer of £3,000 for every story printed and a request for the nurse to obtain a “document on everything” held at the clinic.
A fourth Sunday tabloid, the Sunday Express, refused to meet Atkins, telling him his proposal breached the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) code, could be deemed illegal and constituted “a gross breach of ethics”.
The documentary, Starsuckers, will open at the London Film Festival this month before going on show at independent cinemas across the country.
Always a heartwarming treat to see thugs and hustlers trapped in their own slime.