'Ramsay's night in the toilet from hell' screamed the Sunday Express headline, while the Mail on Sunday explained in its standfirst that Ramsay was 'cautioned by police for gross indecency with two male chefs'. Get the picture? Even if you didn't read the story, you could deduce that something fishy had happened in a toilet with the Michelin-starred chef.
Eleven years ago, a drunken Ramsay and his equally inebriated friends were given a caution for gross indecency after the police assumed they were loudly having sex with each other. While Ramsay has done his best to deal with the rising ghost of the feast, declaring 'it was a case of drunken high jinks and nothing more', it will be wheeled out in every subsequent interview.
Why do I care about this when I loathe the TV series and the publicity-seeking antics of someone who should stick to his own cooking instead of making money by berating others to cook for him? Because there is nothing more unedifying than a scornful media that degrade their scoops by souping up facts when it suits them.
It would appear that by swearing in prime time, Ramsay qualifies for a dish served by newspapers hot or cold: revenge. According to the MoS, he is 'infamous for his four-letter outbursts'. Juxtaposed with the toilet story, the inference is as filthy as his language.
But this is shorthand for 'he courted publicity so let him have it'.
Anyone who makes it big in the UK can expect some kind of smear journalism sooner or later that justifies itself to itself but not to anyone else.
It's not Ramsay's feelings I care about, it's the values of modern journalism.
By all means, let's have journalism that taints reputations when there is real substance to the story. The Sunday Telegraph carried a detailed and highly damaging story alleging inadequate neonatal facilities for newborns with complications at the Hospital of St John & Elizabeth where Gwyneth Paltrow recently gave birth to her daughter Apple. While the hospital will do its best to rebut the claims, it has conceded procedural errors.
Does Ramsay's moral parking ticket a decade ago need revealing in the same manner? Too much journalistic sauce, if you ask me.
Kate Nicholas is on maternity leave.