Nottingham paper scoops Sun on Clough exclusive

Hamilton: got the scoop in advance

Nottingham Evening Post assistant editor Duncan Hamilton walked into his local branch of Waterstone’s bookshop, bought Brian Clough’s new autobiography – and blew The Sun’s exclusive deal with Clough’s publisher out of the water.

The Sun is believed to have paid around £60,000 to secure its Clough scoop, publishing extracts from Cloughie – Walking on Water last week. It also promised its readers a £4 discount on the book, to be published by Hodder Headline "on 19 August".

But Hamilton, who also looks after the books page of the Post, bought his copy on 13 August.

Sun legal manager Tom Crone is now in touch with the book’s publisher. "It was one of the most rigorous journalistic investigations I have ever done," said a wry Hamilton. "I literally walked into the bookshop, picked up a copy and paid £18.99 for it." "There was nothing clandestine about it," said his editor, Graham Glen.  "He paid good English pounds for it."

Glen said the newspaper, knowing the book was about to come out, had been preparing feature material from its archives.

Hamilton phoned the bookshop on Monday last week, knowing that new books sometimes go on sale early. He bought the book, on display in the shop, the following morning.

Hamilton, who covered Nottingham Forest FC for 17 years, marked the passages that were most likely to appeal to readers who know Clough as the club’s most famous manager. He spoke to the newspaper’s lawyers to ensure he was safe on copyright grounds. Then he phoned Hodder Headline to set up an interview with Clough.

Hodder Headline wanted him to sign a confidentiality agreement, promising not to print anything from the book until after publication date. Hamilton said he already had the book and was about to publish. "They had broken their own embargo," he said.

He agreed not to publish the interview until this Monday but went ahead with the extracts.

The next day, the Post ran a back-page lead on Clough’s assessment of ex-Forest player and manager David Platt, plus a two-page spread, and carried more extracts later in the week.

The Sun won its Clough exclusive in a Fleet Street auction. Fergus Shanahan, deputy editor of The Sun, told Press Gazette: "It sounds like a pretty bizarre business. Tom Crone will  investigate and take whatever action he thinks appropriate." Sales went up 4-5 per cent on the back of the Clough serialisation, Shanahan added.

By Jean Morgan

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