One day, in November 1985, a Sun model rang me. ‘I know a guy who’s been inside with Ian Brady,’she said. ‘Is there a few quid in it for us?”
Two days later, I was taping unpublished revelations about the Moors Murderer from an armed robber, who had spent two years with him in Gartree prison.
As an Express journalist, I was obliged to offer freelance work to the paper first. Astonishingly, acting editor Bernard Shrimsley turned down my 6,000-word series, advising me to take it to News International.
Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie loved the story and made a big offer. But the next day, my robber pal said a crooked prison officer would smuggle out an up-to-date mug shot of Brady, so I held off clinching a Sun deal.
The prison officer’s price for the picture was 10 times less than I would have paid, so I hurried up north with a bundle of readies and a camera to take a shot of it.
Seeing the first photo of Brady for 20 years, Kelvin increased his offer.
For reasons I’ve regretted ever since, I mentioned my exclusive to a journalist pal, John Blake, then a Mirror executive, who told his editor, Richard Stott.
Paranoid that my Brady negative would be stolen, I’d left it with my mother, who ran a pub near Blake’s home in Twickenham, Middlesex.
Blake pressed me to let Stott see the photo, and, believing it would put me in a better bargaining position with The Sun, I allowed my mother to hand over the negative on receipt of a letter, confirming the Mirror would not use the photo without my permission.
On my return, Stott read my copy in my presence and topped Kelvin’s offer. The next day – in the middle of my shift at the Express – Kelvin rang and substantially increased his offer, which I accepted.
I had a sleepless night, wondering how I was going to tell Kelvin the Mirror had seen the photo, and might have made a copy, but he took it well and told me to stall the Mirror until he was ready to run the picture.
Frustratingly, he held off for four days. But then, at 6.30pm on 3 December, he called my home. ‘We’re on,’he said.
To fool the Mirror, he ran a spoof first edition, but that quickly made way for my ‘Brady Today’scoop in the main edition.
Richard Stott had copied the photo.
And when he saw The Sun, he used it in his next edition. Fortunately for me, it appeared on Page 5, because the first four pages were taken up with an immovable drugs investigation.
Kelvin was unbelievably understanding about my stupidity and honoured our deal, while gently reminding me about opening my mouth to the wrong people.
Lest I forget, I framed the Mirror’s Page 5 – with the letter confirming the picture would not be used without my consent.
Robin McGibbon is now working with singer Elkie Brooks on her autobiography