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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 17 September, 2014

Wrong-footed newspaper sites accidentally publish ‘Knox is guilty’ stories

Fooled by an early declaration of guilt on a slander charge, the Daily Mail and Sun post stories declaring Knox to have lost her appeal.

THE TRIAL and subsequent appeal of US student Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito has captivated the world for a myriad reasons – not least because of the lifestyles that the parties in the case led.

The global attention on the trial of the pair, who were yesterday acquitted on appeal for the murder of Knox’s British roommate Meredith Kercher, has been among the most intense ever offered on a criminal trial.

As a result, the world’s media have been even more competitive than usual, trying to provide the most comprehensive and quickest coverage – with some websites, apparently, keeping stories on file before their events have even happened.

Last night that tactic came back to bite the Daily Mail, which runs the world’s most popular newspaper website – with some 80 million readers every month – when it was wrong-footed by proceedings in the court in Perugia.

With the presiding judge beginning proceedings by finding Knox guilty – of slander, against her former employer Diya Lumumba – many thought Knox’s bid to have her conviction overturned had failed.

The Mail was among those who were caught out by the events – publishing a piece pre-filed by freelance reporter Nick Pisa which outlined how Knox had lost her appeal:

Blogger Malcolm Coles spotted that a few minutes later, the Sun ran a similar story – but it did not go into the same depth as the Mail’s one, which included a vivid description of how each party had reacted to Knox’s ‘guilt’.

As Knox realised the enormity of what judge Hellman was saying she sank into her chair sobbing uncontrollably while her family and friends hugged each other in tears.

The Guardian and Sky News were also momentarily caught out, but both were able to offer clarifications of their reports within seconds.

Both the Mail and the Sun published corrected stories some minutes later; hyperlinks to both of their original stories now return 404 errors.

The Daily Mail published a small piece in its print edition today, referencing the mistake – but not acknowledging that it had fallen for the error. This photo comes via the Guardian’s Josh Halliday (click the image to load a hi-res version):

(We should add, for the benefit of full disclosure, that we were also caught out in a few of our tweets. Our repeated apologies!)

Read: Prosecution to appeal, but Amanda Knox still free to go home

Watch: Amanda Knox wins appeal and is free to go

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