The satisfying sound of journalists in full retreat could be heard in Dorset today, alongside the expensive ripple of legal writs and the ominous counterpoint of lawyers in conclave, as the Sydling St Nicholas Sun was forced to concede that it has "backed the wrong horse" and "mistakenly identified the wrong person" in the case of what will soon (inevitably) come to be known as Tinckleton Faceliftgate.
Confident in the veracity of its sources, the newspaper had led yesterday with an exclusive on author, celebrity and one-time Thrupiece horizontal-jogging partner [alleged - Ed] Ms Shelley-Lulette Sizemore who, the paper claimed, had been forced to deny rumours that she had undergone extensive cosmetic surgery in the hands of Dr Goodat Nöcker-Boosting, the well-known Tinckleton practitioner. So certain was the Sun of the truth of its story that editor Ron Nasty went so far as to insist that "Ms Sizemore may still claim to be all woman but now at least 50% of her is man-made".
Today a shame-faced Mr Nasty admitted that the Sun had made "an unfortunate and uncharacteristic error completely unprecedented since the "Professor Thrupiece stole my earwax" story two weeks ago". "We would like to take this opportunity", he continued, "to unreservedly put on record our disappointment that our mistake has been found out and to say to our Readers that we will try all the harder to nail her next time." [This is believed to be a reference to "catching her out or catching her red-handed" rather than doing what the term "to nail" is sometimes taken to mean colloquially [Ed]]. A spokesperson for Ms Sizemore welcomed the retraction but expressed the view that Mr Nasty's statement "fell some way short of an apology".
It is understood that late yesterday evening, lawyers acting for Ms Sizemore [Threadbone, Threadbone and Threadbone] were preparing for battle and were on the point of issuing both injunctions to prevent the newspaper printing further allegations and writs for libel. Speaking outside his Great Heaving office Mr Joshua Threadbone said that Ms Sizemore - whose hard-earned reputation as a woman of culture and stature is in danger of being wantonly traduced - was deeply distressed by the wholly-unfounded allegations and would be seeking punitive damages in due course. "Ms Sizemore - whose hard-earned reputation as a woman of culture and stature is in danger of being wantonly traduced - is deeply distressed by the wholly-unfounded allegations and will be seeking punitive damages in due course", he said. The gathered crowd of more than four interested parties was told to expect no further statements at this time. The Rev Brym Stone [Our Lady of the Shrunken Marigolds, Netherby] asked those present to "pray for the soul of Mr Nasty and seek God's help in consigning him to the flames of hell".
Quite how the mistake occurred remains a trade-secret, though a source within the Sydling St Nicholas Sun who wished to remain anonymous said, "It's the kind of mistake you make when you accidentally put an image into Photoshop, mistakenly paste in a different face and unwittingly publish it. The only difference here is that when we normally make that mistake, the woman usually has het tits out".
The case may or may not continue.