Newshound back on the scent in Wales

By Sarah Lagan

Investigative journalist Don Hale has been tempted back into the
newsroom to become associate coastal editor at North Wales Newspapers.

Hale, 52, has spent 30 years in journalism and edited five
newspapers, including the Matlock Mercury. He has been instrumental in
exposing a number of high-profile miscarriage of justice cases.

Most
recently Hale has been campaigning to get a retrial for Barry George
who was convicted of murdering TV presenter Jill Dando. He claimed it
was “another flimsy evidence case” after he found two witnesses who
“turned the case on its head”. This year the Criminal Cases Review
Commission in Birmingham concluded there was indeed a case to
investigate.

Hale won a special Press Gazette award at the 2001British Press Awards and was also given the International Freedom trophy.

Hale
was portrayed in a BBC production based on his Matlock Mercury
investigation which led to the release of Stephen Downing, who was
freed after 27 years when his conviction for murder was quashed.

Hale spent much of his time living in North Wales to work on several projects, including a pilot for a series based in the area.

Hale
has been working for NWN on a freelance basis since December and has
co-ordinated the relaunch of the free weekly, The Pioneer . Drawing on
past experience, he has introduced historical and specialist features
and more community news while keeping the hard news element. There are
now plans to launch a new edition of The Pioneer for the Llandudno area.

Hale said: “I have had a great 10 years or so campaigning for justice, but I’m looking forward to a different challenge.

You do miss the buzz of the newsroom, and the potential here is tremendous.

With
changes that were made before I arrived plus the relaunch, we have
virtually created a new paper and turned quite serious losses into
profit.”

Hale will continue some of his former commitments
including writing a book, and university lecturing. He has been taken
on initially for a six-month period and will be working on the group’s
other coastal titles including the North Wales Chronicle.

Editor-in-chief
at North Wales Newspapers, Graham Breeze, said: “It’s a bit like
bringing in Alan Shearer to lead your attack. There’s no-one better at
getting results.”

Hale’s latest book, Mallard , due out in April, is the true story of Sir Nigel Gresley’s world steam record in 1938.

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