Cambs staff in overdrive after drugs trial

By Sarah Lagan

The weekly Cambridge Times and Wisbech Standard staff worked into
the night after its biggest news story of the year broke just 24 hours
from deadline.

As journalists were wrapping up the issue on Tuesday last week, news
broke that a major trial had ended when all 12 accused, many from the
same family, admitted a host of charges of supplying drugs over a
10-year period.

Staff produced an eight-page background special on the drugs raid on a house near Wisbech which had led to the charges.

Fen
Group news editor John Elworthy worked into the night writing up eight
stories amounting to 5,000 words on the raid, which had involved 300
police and the seizure of huge quantities of cannabis and cocaine and
nearly £80,000 in cash.

Photographer Brian Purdy worked late
handling a selection of the 37 images of the raid provided by police as
well as stills from the video footage.

Elworthy said: “We
expected at least one defendant to plead not guilty, so there never
seemed any question of the story breaking so fast.”

However, when
reporter Elaine King phoned from Cambridge Crown Court to confirm the
guilty pleas, the Archant team pulled out all the stops to re-structure
the paper.

Elworthy added: “A few days earlier, on election
night, I climbed into bed at 5am, and was on the road again by 7am
heading to police headquarters for a briefing on the drugs trial.

“I
had all the background ready but had read only some of it, and hadn’t
even transcribed my notes from the press briefing. The phone call from
Elaine changed all that.”

Managing editor Paul Richardson planned the new issue and edited the supplement.

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