How the Record presented Dick’s story
The Daily Record claims that its serialisation of the story of a man involved in a murder case that “shocked Scotland” was in the public interest.
The Record published the story of Hector Dick, who saw a murder charge against him dropped when he agreed to give evidence for the Crown at Edinburgh High Court against murder victim Arlene Fraser’s husband Nat, who was jailed for 25 years for the crime.
Following the Record’s publication of Dick’s account and media speculation that it had paid him a five-figure sum for it, Fraser’s father, Hector McInnes, has complained to the Press Complaints Commission.
Dick was jailed for 12 months in 2001 for attempting to pervert the course of justice by lying to police about a car said to have been used in Fraser’s abduction and murder.
The Editors’ Code of Practice, administered by the PCC, contains a clause forbidding payment to convicted or confessed criminals or their associates unless the editor choosing to breach the code can demonstrate there is a legitimate public interest.
In a leader published on the day the serialisation started, editor Peter Cox said the Record did not take the decision lightly.
“As everyone knows, Dick was originally charged with complicity in the murder of Arlene Fraser,” wrote Cox. “He admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice by covering up for a cold and calculating killer.
“We do not condone anything he did. Nor do we tell his story to justify him in any way. But we feel there is much to understand about the terrible fate of Arlene Fraser – and the true extent of the evil of Nat Fraser.”
Calling Fraser’s death “the murder case that has shocked Scotland”, the leader argued there were questions that were not answered during the trial and “apart from Nat Fraser, Dick is the only witness who can answer them”.
Dick, an Elgin pig farmer, would expose the lies and hypocrisy “that almost prevented justice being done”, said the Record. “He will throw light on the murky affairs of Nat Fraser and how he came close to getting away with ‘the perfect murder’.
“The Record believes the public interest is served by knowing the whole truth.”
Arlene Fraser’s sister, Carol Gillies, told The Scotsman: “We are obviously unhappy about what has happened. A man who was convicted of an offence connected with Arlene’s murder has apparently been paid money by a newspaper.
“Hector Dick had ample opportunity to talk in the past four and half years and never did so.”
By Jean Morgan