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Former reporter of the year Frank Thorne retires in Australia: 'We've had the best of times...online is killing the business of journalism'

Former British Press Awards reporter of the year Frank Thorne has retired after a 40-year journalism career which latterly included 20 years reporting for Fleet Street from Australia.

Thorne, 65, started his Fleet Street career under Daily Express news editor Brian Hitchen when he was in his mid twenties.

Notable scoops included reporting a confession by Lady Lucan revealing that she would name the killer of her nanny on the day the inquest was due to begin (she later said the killer was Lord Lucan).

After a year Thorne moved to the Sunday People where he stayed as a senior investigative reporter for the next 12 years, before spending three months on the Today newspaper in Pimlico. He then joined the Daily Mirror under editor Richard Stott, and later Roy Greenslade.

He won reporter of the year in 1990 for an investigation into the financial dealings of miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, alongside the then industrial editor Terry Pattinson and the late Ted Oliver.

He told Press Gazette this week: “Soon after Robert Maxwell went overboard with our pensions, I ‘jumped ship’ and took redundancy once David Montgomery and his motley crew took over the Mirror, as I was determined to move to Australia.

“Following 18 months working as a senior researcher on TV’s The Cook Report, working closely with Roger Cook on tough investigations, and waiting for my Aussie residential visa to come through, I finally moved to Australia 20 years ago, in October 1994. I served all the tabloids in England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as magazines in the USA and Australia, until a month ago, once my UK state pension plus my Mirror pension kicked in.

“So after a career spanning the best part of 40 years in Fleet Street, I got sick of being paid as little as £20 recently for nibs making The Sun online, being underpaid for commissioned work done or not being paid at all by some newspapers.

“My record was not being paid for five years by the News of the World for a splash and spread on an exclusive Australian story known as ’The Girl In The Cupboard’ – about a girl called Natasha Ryan.

“I persisted, sending **** ****** updates each year on the anniversary, demanding my payment. When ****** was finally booted out of the the NoW, my old friend and former People news editor, Colin Myler, finally made arrangements for me to get paid. I treated myself to a new kitchen.

“I won’t go on. Suffice to say, my move to Australia has been a spectacular success. I like to feel I brought Fleet Street to Australia and loved going up against Richard Shears of the Daily Mail in particular, who is still working - now against his own Australian Mail Online staff. Incredible.

“We always gave each other a run for our money. We’ve had the best of times.

“Now online is killing the business of journalism we so loved and enjoyed.”

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