The England and Wales Cricket Board has come under fire from the News of the World after it e-mailed copies of a pre-publication interview to two rival newspapers.
NoW cricket correspondent David Norrie secured an exclusive interview with England cricket captain Michael Vaughan last Wednesday, ahead of the team flying out to the West Indies.
As “a courtesy” to the ECB, Norrie e-mailed his completed interview to them on Friday and made one small change as a result of their suggestions. He was surprised to find out on Saturday night that they had then e-mailed his interview to reporters at The Sunday Times and The Independent on Sunday, which had both reproduced parts of it.
Norrie said: “I was reading The Sunday Times on Saturday night and I thought it had just lifted quotes from the early edition, as people do. Then I realised it had used quotes which were cut from my final story.”
Norrie said he telephoned both the journalists concerned, Simon Wilde and Stephen Brenkley, who told him they had been refused Vaughan interviews in person but instead had been sent e-mailed copies of his interview.
The NoW has now written a letter to the cricket board threatening legal action for breach of copyright.
Norrie said: “It’s outrageous. I didn’t think it was possible for England’s cricket bosses to leave me stunned by their actions after dealing with them for so long. Their capacity to self-destruct is legendary.
“After being immersed in the totally professional world of Sir Clive [Woodword] and his England rugby set-up over the past few months, I’d happily forgotten the antics of the ‘Carry on Cricket’ bunch at Lord’s.
“Even my colleague Richie Benaud was flabbergasted when I told him. Despite his vast experience, he reckoned it was another first for the ECB.
“It’s worrying for all those who care about cricket. If England cricket bosses can’t be trusted in such an everyday matter, what hope when serious issues get the ECB treatment, such as Zimbabwe or match-fixing? “I’m fully aware that I’ve never been flavour of the month at the ECB and it doesn’t matter whether my article was sent with or without the ECB knowing it breached my paper’s copyright. Either way, that person at Lord’s should not be dealing with media matters.”
David Norrie has been News of the World cricket correspondent since 1986.
No ECB spokesman was available for comment.
By Dominic Ponsford