Mike Sullivan - Working Week

22.06.06

Awake with eager anticipation to see how we've dealt with an exclusive splash I wrote the previous day on the former England footballer Paul Merson being involved in a police rape investigation. It's the perfect bounce back from a Daily Mail story the day before, about the alleged killer of Rachel Nickell being interviewed by police in Broadmoor.

One of the great things about working for The Sun is the quality of the subs, and Chris Hockley has done a superb job on the Merson story for the splash and over pages six and seven. Likewise, Phil Todd has produced a tremendous spread for the Nickell follow-up on pages 14 and 15, in which we have a good, fresh angle.

Set off for work with a spring in my step. A day is a long time in journalism.

See a contact for coffee at 9.30am near Marble Arch and then head for Lambeth where Sir Ian Blair is presenting a briefing to crime reporters on the new Metropolitan Police radio systems. Awful traffic means I miss the presentation — which never made a line anywhere — and I head into the office to check emails, do some follow-up calls on Merson and file a quick story on it.

Lunchtime. Meet up with my old pal John Ross, an ex- Flying Squad detective turned reporter, in the crime hacks'

favourite bar near the Old Bailey. It's known to us as the Gluepot because it's so easy to get stuck there.

23.06.06

Wake up feeling tender and rack the shrunken remnants of my brain to remember what happened last night. A Merson story with the main angle from Thomas Whitaker has made a page lead.

The tube is stifling and the office even worse. Fortunately, I have a lunch date with a friend from the legal establishment.

We meet in Fleet Street and I manage to drink a couple of glasses and bolster it with steak and chips.

On the way back to the office, I stop off in the City to meet another friend to discuss a long-term project.

I cannot stomach alcohol and make it back to the office by 4pm to write up a "Sunday for Monday" which never makes it into the paper. I get away from the office at 7pm.

25.06.06

At 10pm the night newsdesk call and ask me if I can go to Maidstone the next day for a briefing on the arrest of four men in Morocco over the £53 million Tonbridge robbery.

They tell me that cage fighter Lee Murray has been nicked — but there is no mention of it in our paper the following day and the Daily Mail have a big page lead. It seems the night newsdesk had been put off going with Murray because his age didn't fit with previous cuts on him. Never believe what you read in newspapers!

26.06.06

Leave my north London home at 7.30am and make it down to Maidstone in two hours. On the way, I get a call to tell me that Murray is indeed one of the men banged up in Morocco and so too is another south London heavy named Paul Allen.

Get lucky and bump into a friend who confirms Allen is also nicked. In addition, I hear that £1m in cash was recovered from cars pulled over the previous Friday by cops.

I'm cooking on gas and race back to London, stopping to write up my copy at a greasy spoon. I never use a laptop because they are cumbersome and take too long to scroll through for copy. If necessary, I'll go to an internet cafe or an office shop for faxes of any copy I genuinely need to read for a story.

But mainly, it's one small notebook for the stories and another for writing them up. And if it's late in the day, I'll get straight on the phone to file off the cuff.

Drive to the Gluepot, where I meet a friend for a drink — and because I have the car this time, I get away quickly.

27.06.06

Tonbridge has been given the "Toddy Treatment" and is a classic Sun crime spread with goons in shades and a nice run of copy.

I have been invited down to Hampshire, where the police are holding drinks for journalists at their Hamble training centre in the early evening.

A former Met officer I know very well lives nearby and we meet up for lunch overlooking the Solent.

I book into a hotel in Southampton at 4pm and shortly afterwards, a story breaks from London about an undercover cop being shot. I check it out, file from my room and then meet up with a couple of colleagues in the lobby.

I take a taxi to Hamble, where we have a very pleasant evening. I'm talking to the chief constable when the telephone trills and I hear a man has been arrested over the murder of Sally Anne Bowman.

28.06.06

Wake up at 6am with severe stomach cramps and a hissing radiator pouring out heat in a room that's already like a greenhouse. Papers slip under the door and I see the shot cop has made a page lead. The newsdesk tells me the Sally Anne story made a bit on the front and a turn for the main London editions.

London's calling and after bolting down a coffee, I hit the road and the phone. By midday we know who the Sally Anne suspect is, the pub where he was working as a chef when arrested and that he'd been caught when a DNA sample flagged up, following a punch-up after an England World Cup match.

One of our bright young journalists, James Clench, gets a chat with the suspect's girlfriend who gives him collects and agrees to pose for pictures herself.

It's 9pm. Time to sort out the expenses — a complete pain in the proverbial these days. Last month my exes were thrown back at me because I had not included a receipt for a £3 tube ticket.

Two weeks of exes takes me almost three hours by the time I've sorted the codes, done the VAT sums and calculated mileage. But at least I get back what I spend.

And as my old dad used to say: "You've got to speculate to accumulate."

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