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The story itself referred to an off-the-cuff remark by rival talent show judge Gary Barlow claiming that Cowell’s reign at the top of British television was over. Cowell himself is alive and well.

Inquiry lawyer Robert Jay asked Neesom how she could justify the alarmist headline.

“It’s wrong, isn’t it?” Jay said.

“Um … it’s dramatic,” Neesom said. “Eye-catching.”

Even more dramatic was a front-page story published on April 21, 2010, when international air traffic had been paralyzed by a huge ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokul. Over a picture of an airplane wreathed in ash and fire, the headline read: “TERROR AS PLANE HITS ASH CLOUD: Dramatic pictures as jets get OK to defy volcano.”

The “pictures” were actually from a television reconstruction of an event that had occurred almost three decades earlier. Jay told Neesom that U.K. airport officials had been so horrified by the misleading headline that they had pulled the paper from their newsstands.

Neesom agreed the ash cloud terror story may have “over-egged the pudding.”

“Occasionally, I admit, we do cross lines,” she said. “But we do have standards.”