Steve Panter, the Manchester Evening News journalist who faced a potential jail sentence for refusing to name a source, is leaving journalism, writes Sarah Boden.
Deputy news editor Panter, who has been with the paper for 25 years, has accepted a journalism lecturing post at Salford University.
His name became known throughout the industry after he endured an exhaustive police investigation and more than a six-month wait to ?nd out whether he would be prosecuted for contempt of court.
The possibility of contempt charges arose after he refused to reveal his source when he named the suspect of the 1996 IRA bombing in the city. The Attorney General ?nally decided not to prosecute after concluding that it was not in the public interest.
Panter admitted that some colleagues think he will miss the buzz of the newsroom and is “bonkers” to leave. His interest in teaching was sparked after lecturing at Preston and Leeds journalism schools and instructing trainees at the MEN.
“For more than 25 years, I’ve covered all the major crime events, going back to Lockerbie, Dunblane, the Moors murders and Shipman, more recently. I hope to pass on a lot of that experience, warts and all, to all the young journalists,” he said. “I’m sure there will be other professional rewards with the students – seeing the them develop into capable journalists – that’s where I’m hoping to get the stimulation.”
Panter, who is 50 this year, said that the contempt ordeal had not contributed to his decision to quit the paper. “It’s not in?uenced me at all really, it’s just another experience that I can pass on – source gathering and cultivating sources is a vital part of newspaper work, as is source protection,” he said. “The course has been going for three years. It’s relatively new and there are exciting times ahead.”
He intends to keep his hand in with newspaper freelance work.
MEN editor Paul Horrocks paid tribute to Panter. “He is a journalist of the highest calibre who has produced some outstanding exclusives and who has defended core principles of journalism, ie. protection of sources. We’ll miss him but I think the students will be able to learn huge amounts from his vast experience.”