The Daily Star is a daily tabloid newspaper published from Monday to Saturday in the United Kingdom since 2 November 1978. On 15 September 2002 a sister Sunday edition, was launched with a separate staff. On 31 October 2009, the Daily Star published its 10,000th issue.
When the paper was launched from Manchester, it was circulated only in the North and Midlands. It was conceived by the then-owners of Express Newspapers, Trafalgar House, to take on the strength of the Daily Mirror and The Sun in the north. It was also intended to utilise the under-capacity of the Great Ancoats Street presses in Manchester as the Daily Express was losing circulation. The Daily Star sold out its first night print of 1,400,000. Its cover price has decreased over the years in order to compete with its rival The Sun.
The Daily Star is published by Express Newspapers, which also publishes the Daily Express and Sunday Express. The group is now owned by Richard Desmond's Northern and Shell company. The paper predominantly focuses on stories largely revolving around celebrities, sport, and news and gossip about popular television programmes, such as soap operas and reality TV shows.
Its editor is Dawn Neesom. She was promoted to the post in December 2003 after the previous editor, Peter Hill, moved to become editor of the Daily Express. She had been an executive on the paper in charge of the features department.
The newspaper features a photograph of a topless model on weekdays (in a similar vein to The Sun's former Page 3 feature) and has discovered some well known models, most notably Rachel Ter Horst in 1993, and Lucy Pinder on a Bournemouth beach in summer 2003. Such models as Cherry Dee and Michelle Marsh have also appeared on their page 3. These women are known in the paper as "Star Babes". The paper's glamour photographer is Jeany Savage.
Other regular features in the Daily Star include Wired, a daily gossip column edited by James Cabooter, "Hot TV", a television news column edited by Ed Gleave and Peter Dyke, Mike Ward's weekly television review page and "Forum", a daily page devoted to readers' text messages, which are apparently printed verbatim. Opinion columns by Dominik Diamond and Vanessa Feltz were discontinued in 2008. Until he died in 2012, the chief football writer was Brian Woolnough, lured from The Sun in 2001 for a £200,000 pay packet.
In 1987, the newspaper lost a high profile libel action brought by Jeffrey Archer, leading to an award of £500,000 in damages, over allegations of Archer's involvement with a prostitute, Monica Coghlan. The editor of the Daily Star, Lloyd Turner, was sacked six weeks after the trial. However, the newspaper always stood by its story, and on 19 July 2001 Archer was found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice at the 1987 trial and was sentenced to a total of four years' imprisonment. The paper later launched a bid to reclaim £2.2m – the original payout plus interest and damages.
On 18 April 1989, three days after the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool F.C. fans were fatally injured at an FA Cup semi-final game, the Daily Star ran the front page headline "Dead Fans Robbed by Drunk Thugs", alleging that Liverpool fans had stolen from fans injured or killed in the tragedy. These allegations, along with claims that fans had also attacked police officers aiding the injured, were published in several other newspapers, though it was the content of a front page article by The Sun on 19 April which caused the most controversy. A later inquiry showed all of the claims made were false.
Both the Daily Star and its Sunday equivalent, as well as its stablemates the Daily Express and Sunday Express, featured heavy coverage of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in May 2007. In 2008, the McCann family sued the Star and Express for libel. The action concerned more than 100 stories across the Daily Express, Daily Star and their Sunday equivalents, which accused the McCanns of involvement in their daughter's disappearance. The newspapers' coverage was regarded by the McCanns as grossly defamatory. In a settlement at the High Court of Justice, the newspapers agreed to run a front-page apology to the McCanns on 19 March 2008, publish another apology on the front pages of the Sunday editions on 23 March and make a statement of apology at the High Court. They also agreed to pay costs and substantial damages, which the McCanns plan to use to aid their search for their daughter. The Daily Star apologised for printing "stories suggesting the couple were responsible for, or may be responsible for, the death of their daughter Madeleine and for covering it up" and stated that "We now recognise that such a suggestion is absolutely untrue and that Kate and Gerry are completely innocent of any involvement in their daughter's disappearance."
Volcanic ash front page
On 21 April 2010, in the aftermath of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the Star splashed a computer-generated image on its front page of British Airways Flight 9, which in 1982 encountered volcanic ash and suffered the temporary loss of all engines. The image, taken from a documentary, was accompanied by a headline "Terror as plane hits ash cloud", without any indication on the front page that the image was computer-generated. The splash, on the first day that flights restarted after a six-day closure of UK airspace due to volcanic ash, led to the removal of the paper from newsagents at some UK airports.
Grand Theft Auto Rothbury
On 21 July 2010, the paper ran a story by Jerry Lawton claiming that Rockstar Games was planning an instalment of its Grand Theft Auto series of video games based around the then-recent shootings carried out by Raoul Moat. Amid outcry at the inaccuracy of the story, an apology was published by the paper on 24 July for making no attempt to verify the truth of any of the claims, publishing what was claimed to be the cover, criticising Rockstar for its alleged plans without questioning the likelihood, making no attempt to contact Rockstar before publishing, and obtaining statements from a grieving relative of one of Moat's victims. The paper claimed to have paid "substantial" damages to Rockstar as a result, which Rockstar donated to charity.
Prior to the paper's apology, Lawton defended his story on his Facebook page, claiming to be "baffled by the fury of adult gamers", describing them as "grown (?!?) men who sit around all day playing computer games with one another". He then added "Think I'll challenge them to a virtual reality duel....stab....I win!"
Resignation by Richard Peppiatt
In March 2011, the journalist Richard Peppiatt resigned from the Daily Star with an open letter to Richard Desmond. In the letter, Peppiatt accused the Star of demonising Muslims, supporting the English Defence League (EDL), fabricating stories, ignoring foreign news and paying low wages to staff. The Daily Star said in its defence that Peppiatt was only a "casual reporter" and that he bore resentment over being denied promotion. It also denied that it supported the EDL or that it was anti-Islam.
- 1978: Peter Grimsditch
- 1980: Derek Jameson, who had been editor-in-chief since the launch.
- 1980: Lloyd Turner
- 1987: Mike Gabbert. He was brought in to take the paper downmarket, which he did, briefly including content from the Sunday Sport under the name Daily Star Sport (this was before the Daily Sport launched). He had a very short tenure as circulation dropped dramatically. He was the journalist who had exposed the Sheffield Wednesday trio of Peter Swan, David Layne and Tony Kay for match fixing in the 1960s.
- 1987: Brian Hitchen
- 1994: Phil Walker
- 1998: Peter Hill
- 2003: Dawn Neesom
Although some of its headlines and stories could be considered 'reactionary' and traditionalist, the Daily Star has few articles on politics, and has rarely shown clear support for any specific party or leader. However, in the run-up to the 2010 general election, the newspaper printed several articles which hinted that it wanted to see Labour and Gordon Brown voted out of power, while at the same time offering no explicit support for the Conservatives or their leader David Cameron, who ultimately formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.