By Jean Morgan
Freelance sports reporter Alan Nixon has complained to the Press Complaints Commission after the Sunday Express printed a story naming him at the centre of a shares scandal.
The Sunday Express article that angered Nixon
Nixon wrote to the paper rebutting the allegations made on 12 January and threatened to pursue the matter through his solicitor unless his letter was published in full the following week. When his letter did not appear last weekend, he sent it again and began the complaints procedure.
The story, in the newspaper’s Media Uncovered business section, said Nixon owned 20,000 shares in a football agency, ProActive Management. It accused him of writing “flattering” reports about the company without telling Trinity Mirror – which now demands its journalists reveal all shareholdings – that he was a shareholder.
The Express story was written by ex-Mirror journalists Anil Bhoyrul and Harry Harris. Bhoyrul was sacked in the City Slickers share scandal at the Mirror three years ago and Harris left the paper after an acrimonious row with editor Piers Morgan over his notice period. Nixon claims in his letter that the pair have their “own vested interests”.
Nixon, who works regularly for the Daily Mirror, told Press Gazette no one from the Sunday Express had checked the facts with him. He had written to Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend to “put straight” some inaccuracies.
He told Townsend that the “flattering” article on Paul Stretford (who runs ProActive) was requested by The Independent. “You could have checked that information with me or with Paul Newman [The Independent’s sports editor],” he wrote. “If I was attempting some sort of coup to make money on the shares I chose to buy at that time, I would have cashed in on them soon after when they were worth a great deal more than the original price or even where they are now. However, I did not.”
Since the company went public, Nixon told Townsend, he had written several stories about its clients “that could only be described as uncomplimentary”.
A recent story on Stretford’s part in Everton football star Wayne Rooney’s contract negotiations “was written into the copy by the Mirror sports desk. I can verify this and already have confirmation of this from one of their executives, Mike Allen”, Nixon said in his letter.
The Sunday Express is conducting an investigation and waiting for a full response from Bhoyrul and Harris before replying to the complaint.