Actor George Clooney has accused the Daily Mail of concocting a false and irresponsible story about his fiancée, the human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin.
He issued a strongly-worded statement to the popular American national newspaper, USA Today, following the publication of a Mail article which claimed that Alamuddin's mother, Baria, opposed their forthcoming marriage on religious grounds.
It cited unnamed family members as its source. Clooney wrote:
"I want to speak to the irresponsibility of Monday's Daily Mail report. I seldom respond to tabloids, unless it involves someone else and their safety or well being.
The Daily Mail has printed a completely fabricated story about my fiancée's mother opposing our marriage for religious reasons.
It says Amal's mother has been telling 'half of Beirut' that she's against the wedding. It says they joke about traditions in the Druze religion that end up with the death of the bride. Let me repeat that: the death of the bride."
In his statement he dismantled the key details of the Mail's story:
"None of the story is factually true. Amal's mother is not Druze. She has not been to Beirut since Amal and I have been dating, and she is in no way against the marriage."
But that, in his view, was not "the issue." After claiming that he is used to the Mail "making up stories" about him, he argued that "this lie involves larger issues." He wrote:
"The irresponsibility, in this day and age, to exploit religious differences where none exist, is at the very least negligent and more appropriately dangerous.
We have family members all over the world, and the idea that someone would inflame any part of that world for the sole reason of selling papers should be criminal."
Clooney, 53, whose father was a TV journalist and broadcaster, continued: "I'm the son of a newsman; I accept the idea that freedom of speech can be an inconvenience to my private life from time to time."
But he was concerned by the fact that the Mail's false story had been picked up by hundreds of other outlets, such as Boston.com, New York Daily News, Gulf News and Emirates 24/7.
He concluded his statement by writing: "The Daily Mail, more than any other organisation that calls itself news, has proved time and time again that facts make no difference in the arti
cles they make up.
"And when they put my family and my friends in harm's way, they cross far beyond just a laughable tabloid and into the arena of inciting violence. They must be so very proud."
He cited three "idiotic" and false stories that the Mail has fabricated about him and Alamuddin: she was pregnant, their marriage will take place on the set of Downton Abbey and he is running for political office. These are, he claims, stories "they sit at their computers and invent."
The latest Mail Online version of the story is different from the one published in the newspaper on Monday. It was amended six hours after it was originally posted on the website.
But it still states that Alamuddin's mother, Baria, "is not so impressed" with Clooney and "wanted her to marry within their strict Lebanese religious sect, according to close family friends."
USA Today reports that the Mail "did not respond to requests for comment."