Star Wars: Daily Star Apologises To Rockstar

By John Walker on July 24th, 2010 at 11:55 am.

If I were any better at Photoshop I'd be working for a tabloid.

Heavens above. Rockstar has them some lawyers. You may remember that last week the Daily Star ran an absolutely ridiculous story in which they claimed that Rockstar were to release Grand Theft Auto: Rothbury, based on the events of Raoul Moat, the murder he committed, and his run from the police. You can see the full article, subsequently pulled from the Daily Star site, after Alec had the foresight to screengrab it. Yoinking the story from their site wasn’t really enough – it had spread like wildfire across the web, and it seems Rockstar aren’t the sorts to mess with like that. They’ve got money. They’ve got lawyers. I have never seen an apology like the one on the Star’s site today.

The story was patently ridiculous, and demonstrated that even a newspaper as poorly regarded (by us, at least, legal fans) as the Star hasn’t spent enough time in the bowels of the internet to have picked up on the meme of creating fake GTA box covers. That this particular cover was so poor again didn’t seem to raise a flag for them. And that’s what makes their apology so very special. Rockstar has goosed them so hard that they’ve got the Star mocking itself for its appalling journalism in its own apology.

“We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication and did not contact Rockstar Games prior to publishing the story. We also did not question why a best selling and critically acclaimed fictional games series would choose to base one of their most popular games on this horrifying real crime event.”

Pow. An extraordinary thing to write in your own newspaper.

“It is now accepted that there were never any plans by Rockstar Games to publish such a game and that the story was false. We apologise for publishing the story using a mock-up of the game cover, our own comments on the matter and soliciting critical comments from a grieving family member.”

And that’s the awful part of this story. In a typical gutterpress fashion, rather than contacting Rockstar, or even anyone in the industry who might know, they went straight to (Moat’s ex-girlfriend and gunshot victim) Samatha Stobbart’s grandmother for comment.

“We unreservedly apologise to Rockstar Games and we have undertaken not to repeat the claims again. We have also agreed to pay them a substantial amount in damages which they are donating to charity.”

We’ll presumably have to wait until the next Private Eye before we can get a clue how much that substantial amount was.

The author of this article, Jerry Lawton, had previously expressed confusion as to why the story had raised so much ire. As reported by Destructoid, in their inimitable fashion, Lawton wrote on his Facebook page:

“Baffled by the fury of adult gamers. These are grown (?!?) men who sit around all day playing computer games with one another who’ve today chosen to enter the real world just long enough to complain about my story slamming a Raoul Moat version of Grand Theft Auto! You would think I’d denied the Holocaust!!! Think I’ll challenge them to a virtual reality duel….stab….I win!!!”

Because presumably he couldn’t think of anything more unpleasant or inappropriate to have written. Anyhow, it’ll be interesting to find out if he’s still feeling in such a winning mood this morning.

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99 Comments »

  1. Freud says:

    I kind of expected a “The reporter responsible for the mistake has been severely beaten” towards the end.

    • Heliocentric says:

      The day is still young.

    • sinister agent says:

      I am frankly offended by this use of the word ‘reporter’. Kindly refer to such people in more appropriate, contempuous terms in future. Thank you.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      ‘We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication’ may as well be added on at the end of every story

    • Premium User Badge

      Jerricho says:

      Its implied by the usage of “news”.

    • TheTingler says:

      We can arrange that. Just let me get my raping stick!

  2. ChaosSmurf says:

    I’d play GTA: Daily Star, the epic story of one man’s attempt to look like a total prat.

    • jetRink says:

      Don’t say that! You don’t want this to happen again do you?

    • Blue says:

      Oh, I wouldn’t call that one an “attempt,” sir. I think he definitely succeeded with the “total prat” bit.

  3. Antsy says:

    Bunch of useless twats that they are.

    And for the benefit of Daily Star readers who have randomly clicked their way here…

    YOU AM AN TWATS!

  4. Robert says:

    I might be wrong here, but isn’t comparing stuff to WW2 if you wrong the trademark move of a sweat teenager on the internet? At the very least it is bad taste; maybe HE should enter the real world now and then. And look at grieving people, and treat them like people in instead of virtual subjects.

  5. Bindibadgi says:

    Agreed!

    If the Star (“paper”) print pictures of a flayed Jerry Lawton, I might actually consider buying it. Please say R* lawyers demanded he was flayed. Or at least kicked in the balls several times. That would be delightful.

    • battles_atlas says:

      What do you mean you ‘might consider buying it’? Are you cognitively disabled?

    • battles_atlas says:

      Surely you mean ‘if everything about the Daily Star was the opposite of what it is, including the expectation that you give them money to read it, then I might consider buying it’.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Well if they gave you money for taking it, it would hardly be buying would it?

      Also, I assume he’s not as familiar with The Daily Star as you are. If so, why so grating? They look like a tabloid to me, as they have the same exact layout as all the other ones. Is it significantly worse?

    • Heliocentric says:

      Replace ‘buy’ with ‘stand in newsagent reading and then reshelf’.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I find ‘the star’ less offensive than say ‘the daily mail’ because ‘the star’ is so openly a joke. Unfortunately many of its actual readers don’t realise that.

      “We are the angry mob, we read the papers everyday. We like who they like we hate who they hate”

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Hmm. Of the Desmond papers, the Express is probably the more odious.

      But yeah, they’re all quite alike.

  6. Bindibadgi says:

    Damnit, my reply was to Freud. Forgot to click the right button.

  7. SpinalJack says:

    LOL best ‘news’ I’ve heard all day XD
    (granted, I just got up… but still)

  8. Garbled Zombie says:

    “We also did not question why a best selling and critically acclaimed fictional games series would choose to base one of their most popular games on this horrifying real crime event.”

    Sounds like they didn’t even bother proofreading their apology, Grand Theft Auto is not a “fictional game series”, it’s a real game series.

  9. Orange says:

    The Star took a fully deserved kicking there. A grovelling apology and substantial damages. Chances of them improving their standards and learning from it? About 1%.

    • Zogtee says:

      Agreed.

      Still, I wonder what exactly went down between Rock* and the Daily Star, because that is an epic apology, where they literally say they lied and didn’t bother to check anything. Rock* are really rubbing the Star’s face in the shit here and it is disturbing that Lawton doesn’t appear to even understand what the problem is, which suggests that they do this sort of thing all the time, they just happened to get caught here.

    • Harlander says:

      They do do this all the time. All the tabloids do.

      Tabloid Watch

      It’s like they care more about getting circulation through sensationalism than actually reporting, but that’s madness, right?

      Right?

      Guys?

  10. The Hammer says:

    Ahhh, good to see a Richard Desmond rag eating humble pie. What a load of cockends they are.

  11. Dreaded Walrus says:

    I like the button that says More ‘news’ here.

  12. Out Reach says:

    I wonder why your comments are disabled on that daily star article… Ha Ha Ha.

    • Dreaded Walrus says:

      To be fair, that’s quite common in “apology” articles.

  13. Rick says:

    I will repeat what I wrote in the other article

    Hahahahahahaha.

    That is all.

  14. Deston says:

    This is actually one of my favourite, albeit brief, gaming related stories this year.

    Another tragic situation shamelessly milked by our abysmal tabloid press has actually backfired against one of the worst offenders because they utterly failed to undertake any sort of basic journalistic effort whatsoever.

    That it has ended in the Daily Star publicly grovelling and having to donate a “substantial” (whatever that means) amount of cash to charity is just downright bloody superb.

    +1 wanted star to Rockstar for their handling of this.

  15. pipman300 says:

    daily star (all of them) beat a man to death on the steps of a church.

  16. Fwiffo says:

    Brings a whole new meaning to “hack journalist”, har har har.

    • Fwiffo says:

      Stupid reply fail. Was meant to be a response to Bindibadgi’s suggestion that Jerry Lawton be flayed.

  17. TheApologist says:

    The Daily Star are a total embarrassment to the human race.

    It’s not a surprise to see the journalist, faced with his own incompetence and moral bankruptcy and having just humiliated his employer, immediately turns to blame others people by retreating to a stereotype that is tired, witless and false. Pathetic.

  18. ThePeanutBaron says:

    Worst newspaper I dont know why anyone reads it all they have is fake news stories alongside garbage celebrity news

  19. Tye The Czar says:

    I wish more liars and con-artists(whoever you can think of) got their comeuppance like this.

  20. Mr_Day says:

    With his facebook comments, Lawton seems to show a distinct bias against at least the people who play games, if not the industry itself. I would wonder if that bias was the reason he didn’t spot the boxart for the obvious photoshop job it is.

    Harrassing grieving family members, showing bias, not fact checking, and causing his paper to humiliate itself at the altar of public opinion. In an ideal world, this would be the end of his career. I shall leave the jokes about not having one since he works for the Star up to you lot.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      I suspect himbeing a bit of a fuck-mong (technical term) has something to do with it as well.

  21. Spinoza says:

    (Barry White voice) Uhh Yeah…

  22. Talorc says:

    Completely owned by Rockstar, well done lads. Given the very short length of time between publication and humiliating backdown, their lawyers must have really told them to get on their knees and beg, so as to end the pain fast.

    • Lachlan says:

      Interestingly, libel lawyers usually “aim high” when they write letters before action, to put as much pressure as possible on the defendant to make concessions. This looks like the Star just rolled over and begged…although frankly, I can’t see what kind of defence they could have raised.

      Oh, if only we could see a copy of that correspondence!

    • Zogtee says:

      Seriously, someone here must know someone who has a sister who has a granddaughter who has a dog who has a flea that works at the Daily *, and that flea MUST leak these documents somewhere on the internets.

      Put it in a torrent, ffs.

  23. Novotny says:

    I bet that stung Desmond’s arse quite a bit. Delighted.

    I’d have given my right arm to to hear the conversation that Rockstar’s lawyers had with the Star’s.

    • Talorc says:

      It probably went something like:

      “GET ON YOUR KNEES AND BEG”, “START LICKING SHOE” and “BARK LIKE A BITCH”

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Didn’t know that Rockstar’s lawyers also double as dominatrices until now.

    • jeremypeel says:

      “DRINK HOT COFFEE! DRINK AND ENJOY!”

  24. Taillefer says:

    I expect a parody in the next GTA game.

  25. Shazbut says:

    This is absolute win

  26. Po0py says:

    This made my day.

  27. Bascule42 says:

    Jerry Lawson: C*nt of ’10

  28. Soban says:

    You know? The most funny thing, is that they placed some hot women right in the middle of the article, so you would be to distracted by them to pay any attention to the apology…. What was the apology about again?!?

  29. V. Profane says:

    A grown man who sits around all day updating his Facebook page? Poke! I win!

  30. humptygrumpty says:

    money down that said journalist makes his way into the next GTA game :]

  31. Mr. Versipellis says:

    What an utter prick. That is all i can say.

  32. Jimbo says:

    “Here’s some more tits to make up for it.”

  33. Radiant says:

    I would have played that game.

  34. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    That was absolutely superb. All newspaper apologies should follow the same form.

    Rockstar: you are forgiven all your sins now for having made this happen. Thank you.

    • Zogtee says:

      I even forgive them for fucking up Manhunt 2 and not bringing it to the PC, and that is epic big of me, because I have nerdraged a LOT about that.

    • Navagon says:

      @Zogtee

      I’m a bit more pissed off that they did bring GTA4 to the PC.

    • humble says:

      @Zogtee

      I’ve been playing Manhunt 2 on my PC for at least a year. Have you checked online stores?

  35. jalf says:

    I dunno, I’m not impressed. I’m missing one pretty important part of the apology:

    “How the hell could such a thing have happened for us, and how are we going to prevent it from happening again?”

    Sure, paying Rockstar a truckload of money is probably their only way out, but it would suit them to do a moment’s soul-searching and also at least touch briefly on “what went wrong, and what are we going to do about it”.

    The apology rings a bit hollow otherwise. “We screwed up, but we don’t really care enough to do anything to avoid screwing up again tomorrow”

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      As long as they make more money in sales to “Outraged from Wallsend” than it costs them in paying off people they lie about, it’s not economic to tell the truth.

    • jalf says:

      I know, and that’s why I said I’m not impressed.

      What they’re saying isn’t really “we’re sorry we screwed up”, but rather “we’re sorry we *got caught* screwing up”.

      They don’t even say that posting made-up stories is a bad thing, or something that should be avoided. Just that they promise not to talk about *this* made-up story any more.

    • Uhm says:

      Though I support freedom of the press. Sometimes a license seems like a good idea.

  36. jeremypeel says:

    This is all quite wonderful!

  37. MrTambourineMan says:

    Ha! .44 Magnum would make my day, this news made my week!

  38. Paul Moloney says:

    I’m disappointed that Mr Lawton has not approved my Facebook friend request in order that I can post what a bellend he is.

    P.

  39. Bleeters says:

    Bwhaha. Grovel, puny worms. Grovel in the mud.

  40. Urthman says:

    I feel so much better about buying GTA4 now.

  41. Fartlord says:

    This isn’t raoul moatly funny

  42. clive dunn says:

    ‘The story was patently ridiculous, and demonstrated that even a newspaper as poorly regarded (by us, at least, legal fans) as the star’

    I don’t think a court in the land would convict you for saying that the Star is poorly regarded. I think even if you said that they are fucking scum spewing more scum onto there scummy customers, no judge would flinch. Infact i can’t actually think of an insult that would be going overboard regarding these twats.

    Oh, and it’s common knowledge that ‘dirty’ Des factors in an amount of money each month to his media ‘empire’ in regards to settlement payments, apologies and the like. I imagine he just wiggles his figures around to get all these ‘charity’ payments to actually benefit his tax burden.
    Fortunatly Private Eye are all over this dick and his ‘empire’. They can’t stop him, but they can expose him.

    And as of yesterday he now owns Channel 5, so expect more tits (of all varieties) coming to a screen near you.

  43. arrr_matey says:

    The awesome thing with libel cases is that each individual person can be held responsible for the libel, not just the corporate entity of the newspaper (at least in Canada where I live). So, everybody who had a hand in printing that story could have been individually sued and held accountable–from “reporter” to editor to publisher–as well as the newspaper. That’s probably why it got such a quick settlement.

    That and the fact the the Star had no leg to stand on so they would have lasted about 4 seconds in court.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      That’s actually a really bad law. Its only really going to impact on investigative journalism – if that were the case in the UK – and it isn’t, or at least its not the practice – then Private Eye, for example, couldn’t function.

    • Stephen says:

      Although there’s something weird about bringing up Canadian law when talking about an English newspaper (you’d rarely see it when talking about anything else – “this is how [it] works in my country – other countries are the same as mine, right?”) this happens a lot when there’s a legal element. It’s a pet peeve of mine – Canada drives on the other side of the road so there’s a law that’s different in England already.

      You get to sue whoever you like in England. If you want to sue the reporter who wrote the story you don’t like you just sue them, if you want to sue the newspaper you just sue them. Some people hedge their bets and go for both. The usual practice is to sue whoever seems likely to be able to afford to pay you something if you win. That side of it turns out not to have too much of an effect on investigative journalism because it’s better for you to sue the paper that published it and get a retraction that way (there are other things in libel law in England that are bad for investigative journalism).

      Generally suing an investigative journalist doesn’t get you any money (they can’t afford to pay you a settlement) and the journalist can’t always take the story down (because the paper often owns the rights to it) and just means an investigative journalist now has a grudge against you, your company and so on because you sued them.

  44. Shazbut says:

    Serious question: Does anyone actually know of someone who buys the Daily Star and reads and believes the stories? I mean, we all assume they exist. God knows there’s all kinds of people out there. But I’ve never knowingly met such a person. Maybe someone could show me a photo of a proven Daily Star “believer” so I could stare into their eyes and try and infiltrate their psyche. I’d like to understand the things that prevent them from having the self-awareness of a normal human being.

    • arrr_matey says:

      My friend’s grandmother thought that everything in a newspaper had to be true or else they wouldn’t print it. I think people from that generation still have some weird belief in the authority of the printed word.

  45. Dan Sunderland says:

    Lol, I was just thinking that :-)

  46. KBKarma says:

    What I really love about that story?

    The button at the bottom saying “More ‘News’ Here…”. They appear to be admitting that they just regurgitate shite.

  47. sinister agent says:

    As printed apologies go, this really was a shotgun to the head. And coming from a shitrag like the daily star, it’s pretty amazing.

  48. Manley Pointer says:

    So Rockstar gave the money to charity? That’s noble and all, but…didn’t they just lay off a bunch of the people who made Red Dead Redemption? I guess they prefer to give money away than use it to retain employees.

  49. Breaker Morant's Ghost says:

    Journalists are sleazebags, who knew?