Telegraph: dope bought for story
Peterborough Evening Telegraph reporter Tom Mack has been cautioned by police and suspended by the paper after obtaining cannabis for a story.
As part of its coverage of the Home Secretary’s decision to downgrade cannabis, the Evening Telegraph sent him to check out the availability of the drug in Peterborough.
In under 45 minutes he was able to obtain £20 worth of cannabis from an estate in the east of the city. This was taken to the newspaper’s office and photographs were taken of the journalist posing with it.
Mack then wrote a first-person story about how easy it had been to make the purchase.
This article was included as part of a four-page spread in the editions of Friday, July 11. The final paragraph of his story read: "The drugs that were purchased are to be handed to the police for destruction."
Three days later, editor Kevin Booth received a call from a senior officer to say that the cannabis had not been handed over. The journalist was subsequently interviewed by police and accepted a caution for possession of cannabis.
"The Evening Telegraph can confirm that an amount of cannabis has now been passed on to police and that a member of its editorial staff has been suspended on full pay pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing," said a statement from the newspaper.
Booth said: "As a member of my staff is under investigation, I feel it would be wholly inappropriate to make any further comment at this stage."
Mack will have the right of appeal if he does not agree with the finding of the disciplinary procedure.
By Jean Morgan