Sharon Marshall appearing at Leveson inquiry

Sharon Marshall, a former TV editor at the News of the World and author of Tabloid Girl told the court her book is 'based on a true story' and 'legends from the industry'

The author of a 2010 book called Tabloid Girl, described as a "behind the scenes" account of life at a tabloid newspaper, today told Lord Leveson it was a "dramatisation of [her] time in the industry" and should not be considered as a legal document.

Sharon Marshall, a former TV editor at the News of the World, was questioned by the inquiry on the contents of her book, which states on the front cover that it is a "true story".

But she told the Leveson inquiry it is "based on a true story" and on "legends from the industry", as told to her by people she worked with, and played out using fictional characters.

"It was intended as a light comedy, a good story about a good story. I thought what's the worst that could happen in writing it?

"It is based on a true story. I would call it heightened reality. It was not written as evidence for the inquiry."

During her evidence session to the inquiry, Marshall was questioned on a number of accounts which appear in the book, such as one section said to refer to blagging.

She told the inquiry today – and in her written evidence – that while she did not do so herself, she was aware that using others to obtain medical records "was a practice that did happen in the industry".

The inquiry also heard that the book refers to phone hacking as something journalists were aware of.

"It was all in the public domain" following the 2007 convictions, she said.

"You only had to pick up a newspaper to know how to do it. It was out there in the public domain."

During her evidence she was questioned on a number of stories from the book, such as a telephone conversation with someone about a kiss and tell.

When asked if the conversation was true she said: "It was intended as a joke" and in her written evidence said it "should be seen as a dramatisation of events".

The counsel to the inquiry later said that the book's blurb describes the title as her "hilariously honest memoirs".

"It is a dramatisation, it is heightened reality," she responded. "I'm telling a good tale about a good tale."

She added that the public scrutiny of the press in light of the inquiry has now "made the industry stop and think".

"That's something the industry welcomes because the vast majority want to operate in an ethical and legal way."

In reference to the closing line of the book – "fuck the facts and just file" – she said this is not the "maxim" for the industry as a whole.

Earlier in her appearance she said: "The vast majority of journalists are perfectly ethical good reporters, but there are bad apples on every newspaper."

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