Mistaken identity apology for 'H'

Posted: 19th December 2013

RCJPop star Ian Watkins has won a public apology at the High Court over the mistaken use of his photograph on a celebrity news website reporting the guilty pleas of Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins to serious sexual offences.

The musician and actor – also known as Ian ‘H’ Watkins, or ‘H’, from the band Steps (the claimant) – had already been ‘receiving abuse as a result of people confusing the two Ian Watkins' before the error over the photograph was made. He received the apology from E! Entertainment Television (the defendant), a US company which operates celebrity news television channel, E!, and website E! Online.

His solicitor said that the guilty pleas of Ian Watkins of Lostprophets – who had been jailed for 35 years for a string of child sex offences – was reported on E! Online and that a photograph of the claimant was mistakenly included alongside the piece, instead of an image of Ian Watkins of Lostprophets.

He added, "The error quickly came to the attention of the defendant, which promptly replaced the photograph with the correct one." An editor’s note was also swiftly added to the article which stated, "This story was originally published with an image of Ian ‘H’ Watkins of the band Steps rather than Ian Watkins of the Lostprophets. E! Online deeply regrets this error." The defendant had promptly emailed and telephoned the claimant’s management to apologise.

As well as having the same name as the Lostprophets singer, both men were of similar age and originally came from Wales. The defendant, through its solicitor, apologised in open court for the distress and damage caused by the publication of the photograph.