The Sun gets a hammering over 'Bonkers Bruno' story
LONDON - The Sun was slammed this morning for the blunt headline on its early editions, which labelled troubled former boxer Frank Bruno 'bonkers' as he sought help for his problems.
The Sun appears to have badly misjudged the public mood and hastily changed its first edition "Bonkers Bruno locked up" headline, but not soon enough for it to be picked up and reported on BBC Breakfast News.
Editor Rebekah Wade was forced to withdraw the headline as later editions of carried the more sober "Sad Bruno in mental home" and carried a picture of Bruno calling him a "hero".
From nutter to a hero in the course of a couple of editions is all par for the course in tabloid journalism, but the change of headline does not signal any wider contrition, as The Sun has so far offered no comment nor apology for its first edition.
While The Sun was running its knocking story, support from the world of sport, fans and the public has poured in as mental health charity Sane condemned the coverage.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the charity, said: "It is both an insult to Mr Bruno and damaging to the many thousands of people who endure mental illness to label him as 'bonkers' or 'a nutter' and having to be 'put in a mental home'."
She added: "One in 100 people suffer serious mental breakdown in their lives, are treated in hospital as for any other illness, and the majority return home within weeks."
The poor judgment displayed by editors at The Sun is not the first time the paper has slipped up to its cost. Its most notorious and costly error was the paper's attack on Liverpool fans after the Hillsborough disaster, which led to a prolonged boycott in the city.
It erred again when it published a photo of Chris Tarrant pulling up the bikini top of the then Sophie Rhys-Jones, now Countess of Wessex, which exposed her breasts.
The coverage of Bruno in The Sun was in stark contrast to its rival the Daily Mirror, which caught the mood with its "So sad" front page.
According to Wallace, such "ignorant reporting" as The Sun's does the media and the public a huge disservice and she called on the paper to apologise.
"We call on the newspapers involved to apologise to Mr Bruno and to all those who experience the stigma such attitudes inflame."
Friends of the former heavyweight boxer, who split from his wife Laura two years ago, said Bruno had been meant to go into hospital on Friday.
A police spokesman confirmed: "We were asked to assist an ambulance crew in removing a resident at the house to hospital."
Boxing commentator Reg Gutteridge told the Daily Mirror: "I'm shocked and sad. But Frank has a good family who'll be a great support. I hope he can come back from this. He's a street smart man. But who can say what will happen?"
Bruno won the European heavyweight championship in 1985, and became WBC heavyweight champion in 1991. He lost the crown the following year to Mike Tyson and then announced his retirement from boxing.
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