Former Surrey Herald chief reporter Terry Pattinson says he has been effectively banned by his old paper after complaining about a £5 tip fee for a front-page story.
Last month, Pattinson, a former industrial correspondent for the Daily Mirror and British Press Awards journalist of the year, told Press Gazette that the Herald had offered him £5 for an exclusive front-page tip and story background.
Pattinson, who is now retired, said a journalist from the paper had contacted him before going to press to ask if he had anything suitable for the front page, as its original splash had fallen through.
Pattinson had been working on a story about the police’s power to confiscate alcohol from young people and supplied the background to the story as well as phone numbers and contacts.
When Pattinson asked for more money, Herald editor Mike Hawkins offered him £10. A spokesman said at the time that there was not an agreed fee for front-page tips and Terry was offered “the standard fee”. The paper later offered him £40 as a “gesture of goodwill”.
Pattinson claims Hawkins told him it was “underhand” to have approached Press Gazette about the fee and that he would take stories from him, but would not pay for them. Pattinson said Hawkins made: “Scrooge look like a philanthropist,” adding: “He said he could not trust me any more because of my story in the Press Gazette, but I told him that any editor who offers a freelance a fiver for a splash exclusive deserves all the bad publicity he gets.
“I am surprised that he did not see that our rumpus was a good story. When Mr Hawkins departs this borough, I shudder to think what the circulation of the Herald will be, but I will ensure that my normal service with my friends on the editorial staff of the Herald is resumed.” Sales of the Herald have fallen from 16,204 in 2004 to 14,897 in the latest set of ABCs.
A spokesman for Trinity Mirrorowned North Surrey & London Newspapers said: “We have no comment to make in response to accusations made by an ex-employee who appears to hold a grudge against the company, except to say that sales of the Surrey Herald/News series are outperforming our expectations.” Pattinson said he would now be offering his services to the Herald’s rival, the Woking News & Mail, “whether they pay me or not”.