Tomorrow, Lleyton Hewitt will dispatch his expensive eagles to the South Australian Supreme Court in an attempt to force New Idea to reveal its source over the infamous “Manny Mark” affair.

But Hewitt might be able to save himself the effort, and any erosion of his $38 million fortune, simply by re-reading Crikey.

For those that missed it, back in April New Idea published a front page splash in under the headline “Bec’s Other Man!”, with the accompanying article strongly suggesting that Hewitt’s wife Bec had ditched him for a hulking “Manny”:

Bec Hewitt has a new man in her life  –  and he’s the kind of hunk that every young mum dreams about. He’s tall, fit, outgoing and, best of all, great with the kids.

The breathless piece, quoting anonymous “sources”, was accompanied by poolside pics of the new “couple”. New Idea claimed the “special man” was an “American fitness trainer” named Mark.

But it was all rubbish. Embarrassingly for then New Idea editor Mirella Cestaro and Pacific Publications, the pics weren’t of “Mark” at all, but of Bec’s older brother Shaun Cartwright. It seemed the mag had either been duped by its “source”, or fabricated the connection entirely.

Yesterday, in an apparent attempt to soften the looming legal blow, New Idea apologised to Bec over the article, but said it would refuse to reveal its deepthroat. The Daily Telegraph‘s Sydney Confidential columnist and ex-TV writer Marcus Casey dutifully reported on the apology with the following paragraphs still featuring prominently on the Tele‘s website this morning:

Last month paparazzo Jamie Fawcett — who’d photographed Hewitt and an unknown man in the US a month before the story appeared — maintained he was definitely not the source.

He asserted they were taken by “New Idea‘s guy in the US — a guy called Rupert”. However Confidential has been unable to track “Rupert” down.

But both Lleyton and Casey should try reading Crikey. Way back on 1 April, in what was certainly not an April Fool’s joke, we not only identified the source of the pics — notorious Los Angeles-based paparazzo Rupert Thorpe — but recounted the whole tortuous back story. New Idea was attempting to play catch-up with bitter rival Woman’s Day, and had dispatched Thorpe to take on Fawcett and his offsider Ben McDonald in Florida.

As we reported at the time:

In late February, after the Hewitts left Melbourne when Lleyton was bundled out of the Australian Open, paparazzo Jamie Fawcett travelled to the States for Woman’s Day to track the couple as they jetted around the US. Fawcett then returned to Oz, famously turning his mind to Pauline Hanson in the nuddy, but not before flicking offsider Ben McDonald the Hewitt job. New Idea, aware of Fawcett and McDonald’s Woman’s Day deal, decided to enlist crack snapper Rupert Thorpe to defend its turf (responsible, among other things, for infiltrating Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas’ wedding in 2000).

A report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph quotes “magazine sources” claiming it was Fawcett who gave them the bum steer on the identity of “Minder Mark”. But with Thorpe the real source of New Idea’s photos, this seems extremely unlikely —  the concoction appears instead to have been the sole brainchild of New Idea editor Mirella Cestaro and her hubby, picture editor Kevin Anstey.

Fawcett told Crikey as much this morning — Thorpe took the pics and Cestaro and Anstey, or someone else in the New Idea office, fabricated the yarn. Indeed, it seems the main reason the rag is trying to hide its “source” is because there wasn’t one.