Rebel Wilson’s forced ‘outing’ by a gossip columnist is ruled a distressing intrusion on the Hollywood star’s privacy
- Gossip columnist Andrew Hornery had story of Rebel Wilson’s new romance
- Gave star 2-day deadline forcing Rebel and Ramona Agruma to go on Instagram
- Complaint to Australian Press Council deadline could be ‘threat’ to out her
- Media watchdog has condemned columnist for ‘intruding on privacy’ of Wilson
- Concluded Hornery article ‘likely to cause substantial offence and distress’
An Australian gossip columnist has been slammed by the media watchdog over his forced ‘outing’ of movie star Rebel Wilson.
The Australian Press Council has found the article in the Sydney Morning Herald, in which Andrew Hornery complained about being gazumped by Wilson going public with her new romance with girlfriend Ramona Agruma, ‘was likely to cause substantial offence and distress’.
The APC’s full adjudication considered Hornery’s references to ‘outing’ same-sex celebrity couples, giving the actress two days to respond and its criticism of her for instead detailing her new relationship on Instagram.
The adjudication concluded the article breached its standards for respecting privacy and avoiding harm, and was not in the public interest.
The APC investigated a complaint after Wilson slammed the columnist for forcing her into revealing her relationship with Agruma on Instagram, despite some of their family members not even aware that they were dating.
On June 10 this year, the Hollywood actress posted a picture of herself and her new partner, saying ‘I thought I was searching for a Disney prince … but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess’.
Rebel Wilson went public about her relationship with girlfriend Ramona Agruma (above dressed as the twins from The Shining for Halloween at the weekend) before a gossip columnist’s article which has now been condemned as offensive and distressing
The article by gossip columnist Andrew Hornery (above) complaining about Rebel Wilson ‘outing’ herself on Instagram after he gave her two days to respond has been condemned by the Australian press Council
Below the picture of Wilson with her Los Angeles fashion designer girlfriend, the Pitch Perfect star added a couple heart emoji, a rainbow, and the hashtag #LoveIsLove.
The following day, Hornery published an article saying he had told Wilson he had intended to publish an article about her relationship and complained she had thwarted his scoop.
The columnist said that he had contacted Wilson’s representatives, informing them about his plans to pen a story about her romance, and had given her two days to comment.
The Private Sydney column in the Saturday edition of the Herald objected to the fact that Wilson had chosen to go ahead and publish on her Instagram page, writing ‘Big mistake … Wilson opted to gazump the story.’
Rebel Wilson (right with Ramona Agruma), 42, slammed Australian gossip columnist Andrew Hornery’s article which has now been condemned by the media Watchdog for breaching its standards of privacy and avoiding harm
A wave of backlash followed, with critics accusing Hornery of attempting to ‘out’ Wilson and slamming him for then complaining about her taking control of the announcement.
Wilson broke her silence in a reply to a Twitter post by Channel 10’s Kate Doak.
Doak had written: ‘So apparently it wasn’t Rebel Wilson’s choice to come out. The SMH/The Age have admitted to giving her a heads up two days in advance that they were going to ‘out’ her. What’s worse, openly gay men at the Sydney Morning Herald were involved in this.’
Wilson replied to Doak: ‘Thanks for your comments, it was a very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace,’ Wilson wrote.
Wilson’s went on to say that ‘threatening to out’ her relationship with Agruma, ‘I just thought it was kind of grubby behaviour’.
‘Basically, with the situation where a journalist is threatening to out you, you’ve got to hurry, and some people we didn’t get a chance to tell before it came out publicly. And that’s not ideal.’
The Bridesmaids star said she and Agruma had been seeing each other for several months prior to the Instagram post.
The Hollywood actress called out Sydney Morning Herald columnist Andrew Hornery (pictured) after he forced her into going public with her relationship, despite some family members not even aware that they were dating
‘I just thought it was kind of grubby behaviour,’ Rebel Wilson (right, with Agruma) said about the gossip columnist’s deadline for response about her new relationship
In the article, which was subsequently forwarded to the APC as a complaint, Hornery appeared angry that the star had chosen to take control of her own narrative.
Hornery wrote in his column that he had given Wilson two days to respond, effectively forcing the actress’ hand.
‘It was with an abundance of caution and respect that this media outlet emailed Rebel Wilson’s representatives on Thursday morning, giving her two days to comment on her new relationship with LA leisure wear designer Ramona Agruma, before publishing a single word,’ he wrote.
‘Big mistake. Wilson opted to gazump the story, posting about her new ‘Disney Princess’ on Instagram early Friday morning, the same platform she had previously used to brag about her handsome ex-boyfriend, wealthy American beer baron Jacob Busch.
‘Considering how bitterly Wilson had complained about poor journalism standards… her choice to ignore our discreet genuine and honest queries was underwhelming.’
Rebel Wilson (right) broke her silence in June about claims she was going to be ‘outed’ by a newspaper before she went public with her new girlfriend Ramona Agruma (left)
Social media erupted with users bowled over by the newspaper’s insensitivity.
Sydney Morning Herald Editor’s full statement on Rebel Wilson ‘outing’ backlash
‘On Saturday, The Herald published an article about Australian actor Rebel Wilson and her new partner Ramona Agruma. The article ran online and was a small item on page 36 of Saturday’s print edition.
‘The article has promoted some public attention and I’ve been reading this feedback closely. In the interests of transparency I wanted to offer The Herald’s view on this issue.
‘Our weekly Private Sydney celebrity column last week asked Wilson if she wished to comment about her new partner. We would have asked the same questions had Wilson’s new partner been a man.
‘To say that The Herald ”outed” Wilson is wrong. Like other mastheads do every day, we simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response.
‘I had made no decision about whether or what to publish, and The Herald’s decision about what to do would have been informed by any response Wilson supplied.
‘Wilson made the decision to publicly disclose her new partner – who had been a feature of her social media accounts for months.
‘Private Sydney is a column in which the writer’s interaction with his subjects is often part of the story. Saturday’s piece followed that theme in giving readers insights into our interaction with Wilson and her PR team. This was not a standard news story.
‘We wish Wilson and Agruma well.’
Many expressed outright anger at the paper’s approach to the story, with one writing: ‘am so beyond disgusted at this. turns out [Wilson] only came out to avoid being forcefully outed and now that newspaper is pissed at her for ruining their scoop??’
LGBTQ+ campaigners also voiced their criticism of the paper, arguing that each individual should be able to decide how and when they want to share news of a same-sex relationship.
A Stonewall spokesperson said: ‘Coming out is a deeply personal decision. Whether, when and how to come out should be decided by the individual, entirely on their terms.
‘It is simply not OK to ”out” LGBTQ+ people or put pressure on us to come out.
‘Media outlets should take care not to sensationalise LGBTQ+ lives and relationships.’
The backlash forced Herald editor Bevan Shields to pen a lengthy statement denying any wrongdoing and wishing the couple well.
‘Our weekly Private Sydney celebrity column last week asked Wilson if she wished to comment about her new partner. We would have asked the same questions had Wilson’s new partner been a man. To say that the Herald ‘outed’ Wilson is wrong,’ Shields wrote in ‘A note on Rebel Wilson’.
‘Like other mastheads do every day, we simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response.
‘Wilson made the decision to publicly disclose her new partner – who had been a feature of her social media accounts for months.’
The Australian Press Council’s adjudication on the Hornery article says it considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached after a complaint that raised concerns the columnist’s dead-lined request for a response could be perceived as a threat to ‘out ‘ her as gay.
The APC contacted the Herald for a response and it ‘conceded that it breached the Council’s General Principles relating to privacy and avoidance of harm’.
The Pitch Perfect star topped off her sweet caption with rainbow and heart emoji, adding the hashtag #loveislove
Hornery published a column in which he accused Wilson of ‘gazumping’ his scoop by going public with her relationship – which he had been planning to publish a story about
‘The publication said that to address readers’ concerns with the article, it promptly retracted it from its website and replaced it with a prominent apology by the columnist and also published an editor’s note apologising to its readers.
‘The Council accepts that public figures, such as Ms Wilson, can have a reduced expectation of privacy and there can also be a public interest sufficient to justify intruding on their reasonable expectations of privacy.
‘However … the Council considers that the tenor of the publication’s communications with Ms Wilson concerning a deeply personal matter … intruded on her reasonable expectations of privacy.’
After Wilson revealed her relationship with Agruma, actor and singer Hugh Sheridan said he introduced the happy couple to each other six months ago after deciding he would dedicate time to finding a perfect match for Rebel.
‘I’d been setting Rebel up with various people and Ramona up with various people. I’m a bit of a matchmaker in my spare time, but Rebel was a really hard one and so was Ramona,’ he told 2Day FM.
Wilson and Agruma had been spotted together on several occasions in the months prior to going public – even making a joint red carpet appearance at the Vanity Fair Oscars party back in March.
The duo happily posed together for the cameras, with both women putting on a glamorous display in glitzy gowns, with Wilson opting for a shimmering silver number, while Agruma dazzled in glittery blue.
Actor and singer Hugh Sheridan (centre) introduced the happy couple to each other after deciding he would dedicate time to finding a perfect match for Rebel
‘I’d been setting Rebel up with various people and Ramona up with various people. I’m a bit of a matchmaker in my spare time, but Rebel was a really hard one and so was Ramona,’ he told 2Day FM
They were also spotted together in February on Super Bowl Sunday, and Agruma subsequently joined Wilson for her birthday trip to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico in early March.
The duo then enjoyed another getaway in April, this time to Park City, Utah, where they were seen attending another red carpet event, before hitting the slopes for some skiing.
The actress did reveal in May that she was dating someone, but kept their identity under wraps, telling People that she had been set up with her partner ‘through a friend’, before spending weeks ‘getting to know each other’ on the phone.
‘We spoke on the phone for weeks before meeting,’ Wilson revealed at the time. ‘And that was a really good way to get to know each other. It was a bit old-school in that sense — very romantic.’
Although Wilson’s post in June marked her and Agruma’s official debut as a couple, the pair have actually been spotted together on several occasions in the past few months – even making a joint red carpet appearance at the Vanity Fair Oscars party back in March. Pictured: Rebel and Ramona on April 2 in Utah
She also shared how ‘the process of finding more self-worth’ had ‘elevated’ her standards in terms of what she was looking for in a partner, describing her romance with her new girlfriend as ‘equal’ and ‘healthy’.
The duo then enjoyed another getaway in April, this time to Park City, Utah, where they were seen attending another red carpet event, before hitting the slopes for some skiing
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