FACING THE MUSIC
The Guild of Editors had complained to Home Secretary Michael Howard about the lack of consultation on proposed criminal offences for journalists. The offences, suggested in the Calcutt Report, would have covered the use of bugging devices, and entering and taking pictures on private property without consent and carried fines of up to £5,000.The proposals were eventually dropped.
The police investigation into how details of the death of MP and former journalist Stephen Milligan reached the press traced the leak to the House of Commons. It rejected claims that lurid details of Milligan’s death – he was found dressed in stockings and suspenders – had been leaked by the police. In a final irony, details of the report were leaked to the press before it was released by Scotland Yard.
The Gloucester Citizen had produced a special as the horrific story of the Fred and Rose West murders in the city was beginning to unfold as bodies were discovered at the “house of horror” in Cromwell Street. While nationals were paying up to £500 for blurred pictures of West, the Citizen had obtained a family wedding photo showing Fred, Rose and nine of their children.
NOT SO BLACK DAYS
These were happier times for The Daily Telegraph, which had been named Newspaper of the Year at the British Press Awards. Much of the credit went to editor Max Hastings for modernising the paper.
A bullish Conrad Black was quoted in Press Gazette stating: “We have faced an onslaught from The Times and we sell two and a
half times as many copies and at 160 per cent of the price. I’ve never heard of anything like it.”
PAIN DEFENDS NEIL’S HYDE
As ever, journalists were battling to protect their sources but at last there was some good news. Judge Sir Peter Pain had ruled that Neil Hyde, boss of the INS news agency, did not have to disclose the source of a secret Broadmoor Hospital report on the escape of two convicted killers. The judge ruled that the hospital authorities had not made out a case that it was in the public interest that Hyde and INS should reveal their sources. The judgment was seen as reversing a trend which had seen The Independent’s Jeremy Warner and The Engineer’s Bill Goodwin both fined for contempt for not revealing their sources. Hyde was recently in the news when he won a legal battle to get Thames Valley Police to return secretly seized telephone records of the agency.
HIGH FIVE ARRIVE
BBC’s new 24-hour news and sport radio network, Radio Five Live, opened on 28 March. Phil Harding, editor, news, told Press Gazette of Five Live’s style: “It’s less racy than Radio 1, but more direct and down-toearth than Radio 4.”
It was an historic month for MGN, which moved from its base near Fleet Street to Canary Wharf. In a fivepage briefing in Press Gazette, the company said of the move: “The troubles of the Maxwell era and the practices that proved to almost crush one of the greatest companies in newspaper publishing have been left behind.”