Has Gentleman Ranters tracked down the source of the press picture-stealing 'myth'?

Last week John Dale asked on the website Gentleman Ranters whether there was any evidence to back up claims made by Roy Greenslade, Bob Satchwell and Paul Dacre at one of the Leveson seminars last month that journalists often used to steal photos from bereaved relatives.

Today Ranters editor Revel Barker concludes that it did happen, once, and that this may have been the source for what has become something of an urban myth.

Apparently, there is a scene in the 1960 film The Angry Silence in which a Daily Express reporter steals a photo from a mantlepiece.

Paul Callan has managed to track down Bryan Forbes, 85, who wrote the screenplay. And he said that it actually happened to him and his wife Nanette Newman. A reporter (not from the Express) apparently interviewed him and stole a picture and that’s what inspired him to write the scene.

It’s still a long way from the popular myth that journalists would routinely distract weeping relatives after a death and steal pictures.

Roy Greenslade has since confessed: “I concede that I’ve no personal knowledge of picture theft though I recall hearing about it many times in the past.”

However, the case is not quite closed.

According to Mike Jempson of MediaWise – there was evidence of picture stealing from a former Mirror executive at Clive Soley’s hearings into the Freedom and Responsibility of the Press Bill 1992. And Christopher Nye told PG that the practice is described in Mark Lawson’s book Enough is Enough.

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