Read this: Media Masters - Martin Brunt
Summary: PodcastDownload MP3 www.buzzsprout.comMedia Masters - Martin Brunt…
Media matters with Paul Blanchard welcome to media Masters a series of one-to-one interviews with people at the top of the media game Down by Martin Brunt crime correspondent for Sky News then the chief reporter for the Sunday Mirror he joined.
The channel is part of their launch lineup in 1989 since then has become one of the best known faces in TV news exposing fraudsters covering criminal trials in investigating murderers and pedophiles across the globe as well as reporting from the first Gulf war and the Balkan was his knowledge is often sought for crime documentaries providing insight into cases such as Jack the Ripper the Hatton Garden diamond heist and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann Martin thank you for joining me a pleasure to Martin the crime beat must be a mixture of United nation of that.
You report is helping bring people to Justice and seen that Justice is done but also seeing humanity at its worst well.
You see humanity at all levels at its worst of course.
Sometimes it's best I mean I took two lots of villains.
I do stories about some awful people but I also meet heroes and people who you know who are the heroes of some of those stories, but I always thought when I chose to do crime that I would be seeing all shades of life all shades of people and it's something I wouldn't get if I was covering the health beats or the Education beat all the showbiz beat or heaven forbid the Royal beat and what is it The Entity the most is it the villains or is it the heroes well? I suppose it's the villains.
I mean they tend to be more interesting a few years ago people like me sometimes had Direct contact with villains.
I mean I'm talking about some of the Great Train Robbers who I got to know and I'm people from other famous crimes.
In a perpetrators of less famous crimes, but there was a time when people like that had an interest in talking to people like me, but I think it's time has gone on that changed and there is a notorious crime group in London known as the 18 and I couldn't imagine sitting down over a beer or a cup of coffee and shooting the Breeze with somebody like that or the leader of an Albanian people trafficking gang.
It's very seldom.
I think today that I do actually sit down and talk to anybody from from that side of what I do has the nature of villains changed over the Decades we've covered it out the other they can have nice villains.
If you could call them that honourable villains within their their worldview and you know you mentioned about the Albanian traffic as they just seem to be horrible nasty people with no redeeming qualities.
Are they all robins have just
And persuasions well, I don't want to Rosie a picture.
I mean even those people that I knew at one stage.
I think I always believed that you know however much.
They were full of Bonnie me and happy to talk to me and share stories and share their experiences and it would give me a fascinating insight into their life.
I was always conscious that they were often people have done some very bad things and when they were doing them.
Haven't really thought too much about their victims.
So it might have been easy to lose sight of that but I like to think that I never did and I never saw them as sometimes the way they saw themselves as Latter-day Robin Hoods I don't think there was ever identify the devil tempted to see them in that lights, but you know it's always interesting I think to talk to villains and find out what drives them what they?
Bill about their crimes whether they have any sense of remorse and they tend to be far more interesting to talk to them than police officers or lawyers or judges all the other many other people that I meet in this job because Society tends to romanticize certain types of feeling like the great train robber for example and then Anika's rightly condemns violent criminals pedophiles and son and so far I mentioned the Great Train robbers, and I did get to know two or three of them and as I said they sometimes like to portray themselves as Latter-day Robin Hoods and of course a lot of people argue that villains like them were glamorized in you know any string of of movies but I don't think that you could argue that they really were glamorous figures and certainly in terms of the Great Train Robbers one or more of.
Many years after having served their time for the Great Train Robbery turned to other sorts of crimes one at least was convicted of drug offences and I imagine embarked on that latter stage of their career without any real thought to aid the victims of some of the drug trade as it coloured the way that you view humanity in a sense that you're investing in wrongdoing in covering wrongdoing for for the of the wider public when I got your not.
I'm not scared when I'm in the house on my own but if I've watched a horror film when I'm on my own and I'm convinced the demon nun is going to come and get me do you know what I mean.
I know if you're immersed in all of that kind of wrong doing all the time but does it clear View of humanity.
Are you sleeping or cynical? I'm not sure that im more cynical.
I think it's important that people do understand that there are bad things going on.
I mean most people don't have any experience of crime and most p.
Don't become the victims of crime but I always think when I'm talking to my kids that you're always tell them there's a very thin line between life and death without trying to scare them.
I do insist on telling them that they do have to be very thoughtful about where they go what time of day or night.
They're out on their own who there with because I do see the awful results of the kind of crimes that I worry about her being inflicted on on my children.
Yeah, you can look down the daily list at the Old Bailey and how do I do this sometimes as an exercise and how many quarts are there 1819 courts in if you just look at a snapshot of each crime? That's been in being investigated or or being aired in each courtroom you get an idea that there are terrible things happening all over lung.
All the time but for most people they don't see it.
It's the whole can of Nick Ross at the end of Crimewatch when used to say do sleep well.
Don't have nightmares.
Well if you're in danger of having nightmares.
You shouldn't watch program collect Crimewatch or watch sure my reports on Sky News but of course you know people aren't gonna make that kind of decision and crime films crime series have a huge audience so I guess people do like to read and hear about those awful things but probably mostly safe in the knowledge that they aren't going to be affected by them unless they're very very unlucky.
I got tons of questions, but we just wants from 2 - 10 which is do you think that in Britain that we have our approach to crime rate in terms of a criminal justice process.
I read a book by the secret barrister recently that said you know that were chronically under investing in representation which is not doing anyone any favours.
Spend a lot of time looking at some or experiencing the criminal justice system at work so for example and you don't know where they investing heavily in reducing recidivism in educating prisoners and he tried to treat people when they're in prison as some genuine focus on rehabilitation.
Where is here? There's a bit more of a slightly Daily Mail Focus about retribution at that person must be punished, but it wasn't ultimate if you are gonna let someone out then we have we have to invest properly in rehabilitation then rehabilitation of course is there is in a big part of sending people to prison, but I do believe there has to be an element of punishment and I'm not sure whether the balance is there is always right.
I mean bi6 through cases where I see somebody who yes.
Ok, I do accept the jury's verdict that they guilty and then I hear.
But they're being sent away to prison for four more years than I think it is Justified but I think you have to judge these things on her on a case-by-case basis and must happen the other way of course.
They someone's acquitted then even though they legally innocent.
You must think when you driving home moving day today.
I think my experience over the past few years is the jury's tend to get things right.
I'm in there was a time when it was very easy to get out of jury.
Service some and I've seen people waiting in the big jury panel at the Old Bailey or any any other Court waiting for the selection of the Twelve Good Men and true and then when the name is called going up to the judge and whispering in his ear and in the past some years ago or anybody who didn't want to serve on a jury for whatever reason they had kids they had to take the school all their job meant that they couldn't devote the time.
All they had a holiday but we're off untold ok.
We'll that's fine.
We'll just go through whoever's left you ended up with jurors who were either the unemployed or the unemployable now the laws have been tightened up the rules have been tightened up much more it's very difficult to persuade a judge that you've got a good enough excuse to avoid jury service so you tend to end up with pretty good thinking juris, and you don't have them nodding off like you used to they seem to me in the most part of very attentive.
They are methodical they appeared to be methodical her in the in how they go through stuff when I'm watching them in court.
I mean of course.
I don't have any insight into their deliberations in the jury room, but mostly I think the jury that I've observed over the past few years 10 to get their verdicts write an amazing reputation for getting inside information.
Re soften say yeah Martin knows more than we do.
How do you go about getting your stories and that is and I'm not at office Lee asking you to come over near me sources, but do you know what it what is a typical behaviour? How do you go about your own personal newsgathering process? What does specialist reporter you are far more valuable to your newsdesk to your news editors if you can bring in your own stories and every corresponding every specialist reporter is encouraged to do that and quite honestly if you can spend more time doing your own stories than being given spoonfed a diary story your life is much more interesting now.
You can't suddenly get into the job and and find that there's a story he ran a story there or people out of the blue are going to phone you with with ideas and tip offs and so forth you have to earn people's trust and that generally means getting to know them over.
How long period to an extent that they will trust you they will perhaps tell you something that you can't use at the moment, but it might be useful some way down there down the line.
You need to stay in touch with your contacts and I think one thing that I quite good at and I think everybody should stop this it's not to phone up contact when you need something or you want something but to phone People as much as you can from time to time just to say hello just to meet for a coffee with no agenda her because I think of people felt that you were simply milking them for stories and and their knowledge all the time just looking for a story all the time then your relationship would probably Peter out and presumably that when when you know someone's been arrested for example.
There's a linear process that you can then follow it.
You're going to stay with that process where they're going to be bailed on North and then put put on trial on Norton the coverage of the trial a sub scan.
Twitter laugh and release or conviction and appeal that there's a process that you can come and stay on board with you must have multiple strands of activity at the head anyone point where you're following SE20 cases.
I I try and pick and choose those that I stick with Lee tend to be the biggest stories, but yes certainly if it's something that's got wide publicity.
It's been a high-profile story then I as the crime reporter should be covering that story from beginning to end, but of course that can take a very long time.
I mean in police investigations can take months or years, but if I have done a lot of work on the investigation of course.
I'm interested if they making a rest and I want to find out who that person is I want to with their chores.
I want to be in court for the first appearance and then there tends to be a bit of a lol, but if you've done the investigation if you've done the first court appearance you make an effort to get to know the lawyers involved you win.
Notably would have got to know the cops doing the investigation and if they will take your calls and increasingly.
They won't take the police officers are it important to keep in contact and just get an idea of how quickly or otherwise the judicial process is moving and no when keep Court dates are coming up and try and get some idea of the evidence that's going to be presented at the trial and then as for trials will be tender Sky News to blow a bit hot and cold on covering trials.
They don't lend themselves to television not visual.
Are they not know my boss John Riley they had of Sky News is a very keen supporter of the idea of getting cameras into court now.
It's happened to a very very small degree Supreme Court judgements appeal Court judgements in some rare cases are filmed but I met the new dpp the other day.
He told me he wasn't a fan of cameras in court and I think he said he'd told my boss that so between them the dpp and my boss probably aren't going to see cameras in court.
I'm your man.
I'm I'm in the Twilight of of my career.
So I'm not going to see it and to be honest.
I'm not a fan of them because I think it's my job as a representative of the public to go into court and come out and paint a picture in my words of what they can't see I think that's very important and I suppose if you had cameras in court.
I routinely then people like me to a degree would be put out of a job.
I mean I've never smuggled anything into the country, but whenever I come back through customs even though I'm innocent.
I still feel a tiny bit guilty that im being watch the man who would be suffice or murder or it if they're fighting a pub and I was called as a witness it for me person who put a lot of stress on me find you not only was I in The Witness box but also sky new.
Discovering it live and presumably be on some can a split-screen situation that that would possibly undermine my ability to give evidence that's the argument.
I've given evidence a couple of times and it is it it it it is quite some stressful that because you're never quite sure what you're going to be asked in a cold one side is trying to trip you up.
I mean it wasn't terribly comfortable experience and I've got to do it again potentially her later this year, so I don't I didn't look forward to it, but I did have 1 experience that resulted very positively when I gave evidence on behalf of a friend of mine who been arrested and charged with bribery and corruption because of his relationship with a police officer and it was a rather weird experience because I gave evidence for the Defence but I was treated more like her an expert Witness and was asked about relationships between police and
Journalists and how that works and how it should work and the dangers and the positive side of it and my very old friend who was in the dock was acquitted.
I was his only Witness and it was a badly put together prosecution and I was asked them daft questions by the prosecutor and I pointed out to mistakes that she had made and there was a danger of the jury.
Thinking I was getting a bit cocky so I had to be kind of conscious of of that if you don't correct the mistake then it's therefore true absolutely were glaring errors and and she had not done her homework, which I got Alistair strike anyway the great result was that when the jury came back.
They acquitted my friend and I was quite surprised, but I was grateful for having played a part in in his acquittal and an hour later.
We were drinking champagne in our favourite dive.
Are in them in Blackfriars early could have gone the other way the jury convicted your friend and then they might have been yes, I might I could have said something out of turn I could have got my facts wrong but thankfully I didn't but it but it does I think it's important to get involved on those rare occasions because it does really give you an insight as a court reporter to what Witnesses are going through and I've been icing all sorts of courtroom dramas people shouting and bawling people in tears.
There was a famous case at Croydon Magistrates Court the Young football fan.
Who was being done for the Punch up with Eric Cantona people with long memories will remember that and this chap whose name.
I can't remember was convicted of assault and was told that he would have to spend a month in prison and he made absolutely no response to that but then the prosecutor got up and said old to the Magi
Straight we also want to football banned so the magistrate said you go to prison for a month and you will also be banned from football grounds free year and that's the thing that really annoyed him and that this he Leapt out of the dark ran across the benches in front of the magistrates and threw himself at the prosecutor got a grip around his neck pulled into the floor at the prosecutor managed to draw himself up with straining to get away from this guy and pushing himself towards the press bench is pleading for help at which point the doors burst open and other doesn't cops came in and that at this guy to the floor the bottom will have been at end of the Rack and dragged him off and so that I mean that the most dramatic courtroom moment I've sat through but but there have been plenty of others but fulfilling that role as a as a witness god forbid.
I haven't been a defendants, but it does give you an insight into the job as a court reporter you begin.
To understand better, how people are behaving in in in court and you can you can understand the stresses that they're going through and perhaps realise why they're not as eruditus you think they might be all their memory is failing them.
It's a it's a good insight and I'm going to talk about a depressive relationship with the police in particular the second but it just to finish off on the court what interests me is how you visualise it does when I think it always have been watching you on Skype for decades when I think of you doing your job.
You're stood outside the court talking to camera with the doors of the court order that you know that logos and a collar but you do the coat of arms saying this is what's just happened.
How do you actually manage your time because you physically can't broadcast on a 24-hour rolling news channel of your in court.
I'm not sure if you allowed to tweet or whatever but you're offering Carter when you're outside the carpet.
Do you have someone else in court this texting you update? How did it actually working terms of time management in two places at once? I can't I wish often wish I could be.
A long rambling question I got what's your name? I know what you're driving it and it's changed over the years.
You are these days allowed to tweeting Court I mean that was a battle that we had to we had to fight and we eventually won it there are still a few occasions where I've been told that we can't I can't I can't remember the last time that happened, but it may have been about some very sensitive evidence that was being given by a particularly vulnerable witness or something like that wear and I don't think it was the it was a judge's order think the judge said look it would be very helpful if some if this didn't happen and I think we tend to agree I mean we we work under so many restrictions in court.
We don't roll over if we're asked to restrict ourselves voluntarily and but there are occasions when I think it say it it does make sense but we challenge most restrictions to what we do because.
There are so few things that you can do in court, but in terms of my time management term sometimes.
I will have a feel producer with me sometimes.
I went and it is a bit difficult to take note of what's being said because sometimes it's being said very quickly so I've kept my shorthand up to a reasonable degree, but I also have to come of split my brain in half and make some bullet points because at some stage.
I'm going to be sent a message, newsdesk who perhaps a reading pa copy and I'm good with going to be asked to dash out and do an instant live and if your head is full of 2 hours of evidence it can be very difficult to solve be precise about the point you want to get over so half of my brain is writing my my shorthand following what witnesses and social the same the other half is writing bullet points so that I can run out if
I have two if I'm asked to and just doing a brief summary of firm of what's being said it does help if I have a colleague with me and one of the things that we have developed is the live blog where the person with me and me to an extent as far as I can.
I will tweet contemporaneously what's being said, but it has to be a big case a big case that we think will attract and lots of people on Twitter and I do when I get the end of the day and I go back and I look at the I don't know 58 weeks that I sent I see that very few have been retweeted and I do have got an old Durex cock friend of mine who if he's watching and he's a big twitter use if he's watching me them back out this stuff every 2 minutes from inside a court.
He'll send me a yawn emoji or something.
He says that people aren't that bothered but we believe they are.
I disagree with him.
Just I follow your life tweets and just because I don't retweet because I don't understand my own followers with you if they're not interested in the live updates and is probably doesn't mean that I'm not interested in just Me viewing your tweet.
Is is a good service but on the top skill point but it actually cuts into the conflict.
I have as a viewer because let's say there's a guilty verdict.
I want you to be in the in the Press gallery of the court.
So that you can tell me how the defendant reacted as a viewer but I also want you to be stood outside the court at that moment to bring me that news first so happy at your how do you reckon salah's to Frankley conflicting priorities.
He is it that you watch the different and then there's that dash but even in that 7 minute dash news channel might have got it to a quicker.
Yes, yes, we are often on the big cases am in competition with them with our rivals particularly BBC 24-hour send ITN don't have a 24-hour channel anymore, so so they've gone out of the picture, but we're still in comfort.
Some of the BBC and we all want to be right first with those big verdicts.
I ideally would like to be in two places at once I do want to see the reaction of the person in the dock on a big case on particularly on a big case where you feel the evidence could go either way in the jury's, mind been I can't always work out what the verdicts going to be on those occasions if it's a very big thing then I will be outside plugged into our gallery talking to them and we will be waiting for my colleague to either sweet or to text message a number of other think leading the news editor the producer in the gallery and me and then I have to have to make sure that I got my phone open your silence spare battery carrying me.
Airplane mode and you have to make sure that it doesn't die on you and it is fully charged and then I'll have all my notes from covering the trial and so the text will come in and I will get it roughly at the same time as the producer and if they're really on the ball.
They will come straight to me.
I mean there have been times when we are so keen to be first that we will be in court and will be told that the jury are coming back and there's usually somebody one of the lawyers defence or prosecution or one of the Ashes all the court clerk.
Will tell you they're coming back with a verdict because jurys come back all the time to ask questions without having made a decision, so when we know that they're coming back with a verdict.
I will run out.
I will call all my colleague will call the gallery and sometimes.
They will get the presenter to start talking to me live on air.
In the low, but it's incredibly exciting in the hope that I can keep talking do on your girl left until the text comes all the tweet comes that tells me what the verdict to Spain and in most cases that will work.
I'm the guy stands outside the courtroom door waiting for somebody more interesting to come out when I grab it on and fill the time so yeah, it's kind of juggling all these balls but also making sure while you're talking that you've got one eye in one eye on the camera one eye on your on your phone waiting for that verdict, but I think the simplest way of getting over any difficulty or awkwardness is to say to the presenter the cable John or whatever the I'm just keeping while we're talking I'm keeping an eye on my phone because that verdict is going to come in shortly so instead of full of the viewer thinking you looking.
Bit shifty doing in a looking from the camera to your phone if you explain what you're doing it makes sense to the viewer and you can actually get on with what you're trying to do without deflecting people's attention and he still get a thrill from breaking news.
I mean I was in the pub about 45 years ago with a friend of mine who works at Sky and he got some trusted information via text virus or said he trusted and he rang The Newsroom straight away and said I know this to be true snail down, but this is the case and then we're in a pub and then it had sky news on mute like lot of these pubs near and within about 10 seconds the takeaway turned yellow sky sources breaking news on Heathrow sat next to him.
You know but I got a vicarious from nothing that says he probably wanted to be on the air delivering that news but yes we find a Wetherspoons at Blagdon there where you can go live from anywhere in the world in that's one of the great development sites in over 30 years, but yes breaking news is still the biggest thrill popping up.
Ideally on camera where something is Happening but even if you're miles and miles away thousands of miles away and I've done this.
I've gone on on the phone and I'm broken using many even when I've been on holiday.
Many hundreds of miles away from Sky if somebody rings me and tells me something important.
There's no greater thrill than phoning the news desk and being put straight on there and delivering it.
I've been telling an old stock photograph of you and then a graphic of a phone is near this never changing years yes, yeah.
We do have one of those and that's a timely reminder.
I must update my photographs because it doesn't look like me now, but it is the biggest thrill telling people something they don't know that's important.
You know I'm not really that interested in following up during my day at Sky News a newspaper story and turning it into.
1/2 minutes of good TV by 7 the same day and essentially not really telling viewers much more than they could have read in the newspapers that morning and is it a challenge that for you as a corresponding generally on TV news that most people know the news now before you've even gone to her because I I second screen iPad screen sometimes.
I've got my iPad and my iPhone and Sky News on an Audi know that beat the fact of what you're about to say and I'm looking for your insight and your analysis and your take on it.
Yes, I mean it so it is true that more and more and we do become analysts and that was something.
I I kind of had to get used to because the thrill for me is still the bog standard covering crime and what happened and who's done what to whom and what the police are up to and who they're looking.
The very basic stuff particularly when it's new stuff and as I said earlier, I'm telling her viewers something they don't know I'm I'm never quite convinced.
How authorities I'm seeing as her as an analyst and I'm not some I don't think I'm terribly knowledgeable about the criminal justice system is your viewer yacht yum yum aspirant off of Sky News now believe anything you say well that could be rather dangerous because of course you know we all we all get things wrong it when we doing them in a hurry, but you know it's live TV and if you do make an arrow, you can correct it pretty quickly, but turn Moss can you start that Mum try me now that I now know that you guys are really distance away from me but decades was never wrong for long are my boss hates that I know but it's true and ok you you on the end of a live camera when you're giving incredible licence and you have to use that response.
Sadly, but you can't expect everybody to to get things right all the time.
I mean nobody in any profession unfortunately we are very high profile.
We have a lot of viewers and put it in my world where you're dealing with legal issues it can be very problematic if you get things wrong.
I mean I don't know whether I've cost Sky News money because of what I've done and people have complained.
I know it's only people have complained and it may well be that the settlement have been done over something.
I've said it was wrong.
I don't know I think it was something really important.
I would know but also if you've been on the beat long enough to know what you can and can't do if it's it if it's a sexual violence case you know this even if you do know the identity of that the complainant and the victim that you just wouldn't be seen your DNA isn't it? There's is no way you would ever possibly mean that person know most of it is common sense.
What is common sense to me because I've been doing a long time I do occasionally have slightly Strange Experiences I have one recently and one many years ago where a colleague came up to me and this is just a reflection on the makeup of newsrooms today a colleague came up to me and said then I've got to go to the Old Bailey tomorrow.
Is there anything I need to know diesel don'ts at the Bailey because I've not been before and I said no security is a bit tighter but the restrictions what you're allowed to do what you're not allowed to do with the same as they are any crown court and he said I've never been to any court and that kind of made me think ok.
I'm making the Assumption Potter me so you know why have we got people who've never been to court but of course people are becoming a journalist not just a Sky News but but throughout the media.
Who haven't done that apprenticeship.in my contemporary have done by sitting in local Courts on local newspapers or newsagents is or even in Fleet Street they are being plucked the brightest of them from media studies courses and being thrown in the deep end and you know most of them are surviving but they do hit a bit of a brick wall when they have to go and do something that is a very precise thing which is covering a court case and you do really need to know what you're doing, but yeah good done good for him to come and ask me rather than just going in and out on a wing and a prayer at least you had the good sense to ask me for some advice.
This person's train is a journalist electricity, chapter 5 the good sensitive trained him up on what's legal and what's not well.
Yes, you just thought that if you're doing a media studies course then spending at least.
Monday in court ought to be part of the curriculum, but clearly for him that hadn't happened but he may not have come for a media studies course.
I'm not I can't remember what his background was when are you due to these things that an individual basis mentioned a couple of times already briefly about your relationship with the police? How was it changed over the Decades in terms of flight post Leveson it? Is it that things used to be much more cozier which might have suited you as a corresponding you got much more inside information.
Where is now as you hinted at earlier.
Do they hold you at arm's-length morning is that is that actually for the best hurler Russian ship is is awful when it used to be good.
I mean in very general terms since Leveson which of course was on the back of the phone-hacking stuff.
It's become incredibly difficult to do that part of my job.
Which is to talk to police and find out what's going on leather.
Said it the relationship was wrong.
I mean he said the relationship between journalists and police and journalists and politicians was far too cosy and it was a bad relationship now.
I'm not aware that anything Has Changed match between the way politicians give stories to political reporters.
It's changed out of all proportion in the way that crime reporters deal with police officers so seeing what he said had any merit which you might not accept, but it seems to have gone too far the other way now then yeah, I mean I do accept that to me know.
They were corrupt.
Cops who would get paid for giving journalists information in Ireland and that only in very rare circumstances.
I suppose could could be Justified but what flows from Leveson was particularly at the Metropolitan Police and what the Met does today most of the forces follow.
The commissioner made it clear and he actually said this to a meeting he had with crime reporters that if any of his officers were caught giving out information that they weren't entitled to then they would be pursued criminally and prosecuted or is to this week, I can't do that then will discipline them and there were some very high-profile officers.
Who are why they lost their jobs through disciplinary processes or were so badly treated that that they left and I can understand his concerns about this the commissioners concerned about cops giving information about operations that they weren't working on but I for many years used to talk to Cops about their own stories and particularly where you had press officers who weren't very good at selling the positive stories that we're going on.
I found it incredibly useful to talk to her.
Suffice it gave me a step-up and what was the result for the force that the officer was working for got rather better publicity for a job well done, then.
They would have done otherwise because there are lots of there are lots of great stories in all police forces successful stories that never see the light of day and I can't remember a police officer ever telling me anything that reflected badly on their Force they almost to a man and woman would talk to me only about their own cases and give me some fascinating insight into successful stories.
I mean whether they ended in conviction or acquittal as it was irrelevant, but they wanted to show me the great detective stuff that was going on and as a crime reporter what you want in very basic terms is to hear a good detective stories very.
Someone was Robert The Detectives went to find them bit found them and cut them and put me the lock up this extraordinary work being done all forces Anthony the maytime inn.
I have my closest relationships with a mate.
I am because they're the biggest forcing they do more interesting stories and anybody anybody else, but there are so many stories that don't see the light of day and I'm one of my bugbears is the press officer who doesn't talk to his senior investigating officers on a regular basis to find out what's going on what they doing.
What's coming up at court and just a learning basics of their job.
I appreciate they have other things to do than tell me the good stories coming up but you know so much doesn't get someone to the good stuff doesn't get told her particularly at a time when police are in a big bash all over the place their budgets of shrinking.
They need to sell themselves better than they do at the
Until I'm constantly telling press officers, but then they'll turn around and say well the officers don't tell us what they doing and I say well don't badger them insist that they tell you but getting back to the point Sam individual officers find it very difficult to talk to me they've been told that they shouldn't talk to me without a press officer Andy and certainly the idea of meeting a cop in a pub for a drink is mostly something that doesn't happen today, so we got extra free time of you taken up backgammon or something to fill in the hours that you would have spent in the pub talking to you you mould in the met, but the thing is and and this isn't you you don't you mustn't rely on police officers to tell you things will police press officers.
You know there are more ways of skinning a cat in a you have to develop other sources and I don't care where stories come from the can.
From anybody start a story absolutely end in I talk to lawyers.
I talk to court staff I talk to prison officers.
I took two counsellors.
I talk to people in the health industry and Crime Stories can come from anywhere they come from your local newspaper.
You know you might see her tiny singing a local newspaper that you can see a way of projecting into something nationally you know I don't I don't care where those stories come from as long as they keep coming and that the flow of stories has dried up as I get older I did one of the things I have to contend with his people.
I've known for many years are retiring all the dying and I said earlier Twilight of my career and I wouldn't want to be a crime reporter in Barking on her career now because I think they would find it increasing.
Difficult to find original stories is there any you and Kay Burley that's been on screen since the very beginning of have I forgotten other Adam Boulton of course Adam he was politically disease now editor-at-large it with that she had him in that sitting in that.
She's a great interview butter.
Are you are you the only person that's remained as a correspondent all these decades.
Yes, I mean in my defence.
I wasn't the crime correspondent when I Began I had four or five years of doing general reporting and then the crime reporter we had to I were both reached Street hacks like I was originally Tim miles from the Daily Mail was the first crime reporter and Tim I just found it a bit difficult to adjust and was in a position where he didn't need to stick with it.
He went off to do other things and then a second collie.
Took over and he did it for 203 years and then he left to do he went on to do great things on the Cook Report and we had a gap of 203 years and I started getting some good sources and generating some Crime Stories and I remember saying to my boss.
Why don't we have a crime reporter wide? Why haven't we got one and he said do you fancy doing it? So you went upstairs and Kelvin Mackenzie who have known of old was Autobots at the time and Kelvin in true Kelvin style said yeah, why not? I don't care who does it now leaving endorsement.
That wasn't aware of my role at Sky he had bigger things to think of but the message came down to my baths and so suddenly.
I became the crime reporter and handle here to this day.
Yeah, I know I'm still here today because I love it.
Can't think of a better job in Janice in them being Sky News crime course I agree.
I'm jealous and I'm aware.
I'm literally one of your viewers over decades.
I did a fantastic job.
Not always but but I like to think that if I hadn't been doing a good job.
I probably still wouldn't be here.
I mean my healthy have got reasonably good health as well, so that's that's important, but I just couldn't envisage being the health Correspondents or the showbiz correspondent all the Education correspondent or god forbid the Royal correspondence or news anchor.
Have you ever been tempted to present live with my for example? Do you know I was encourage night times quite keen to try that the very early days.
I was going to do a bit of sports presenting.
I don't know why I wanted to do it.
Maybe try something different was only going to be a temporary thing about Matt Lorenzo gone at this point now here.
Are we talking about Matt was still there and he prob.
We wouldn't have fun wouldn't have enjoyed rejoining those ranks, but this is this was when I was a general report to so it must have been I don't know early 1990s and what I'm going to say now.
Will will show you the date.
I was within about 2 hours of making my debut and I was getting quite nervous though.
I wasn't sure how much I can rely on the gallery and your present to you hold the program together.
There's no hiding place if you're the report are out on a windswept Street you can kind of dry up.
You can get things wrong and I can cut back to the studio, but if you're the presenter you've got a hold it together so I kind of nervous looking towards it and then a call came in that John McCarthy who was still there captain captain in Lebanon have been freed and was on a plane or about to get on the plane home Harry was captured and held in captivity with Terry where was some yeah, so
The prisoner for 5 years and I done a lot of work on that story.
I didn't have viewed his a his dad and I didn't have viewed his girlfriend and I was kind of the expert so the call came in and the News editor came over and said you're going to have to go to RAF Lyneham for the plane back and C McCarthy and do that story and sorry but you you're presenting shift on Sky Sports news is that is not going to happen and I kind of went off to Wiltshire with them some relief I think and then you know never went back and it's probably better for the viewers that I didn't because the idea of sitting in the studio combing your hair making sure your tyres right being rather clipped in the way you speak and being terribly precise about what you do and making everything flow neatly isn't really me I much prefer to stand on a windswept.
Flying by the seat of my pants.
Hopefully not getting things wrong or knocking things out but introducing clips coming back to me and filling in a bit and then going to something else or bringing in a live guest and doing that on the hoof that's quite exhilarating when you've got through it and come out the other side not quite as thrilling as breaking big stories, but that live stuff where if you look a bit rough around the edges or it looks a bit rough around the edges that adds and immediacy and shows people that you are actually wear something is Happening and it's live and it's not perfect.
I think that's much more me than sitting in a studio with my tidying up my head.
What are the kind of big stories that have dominated you carry on a free sample of Madeleine McCann cases, it has been a huge story that you've covered is that is that more memorable than others for example.
Did you ever get close?
You think what really happened I suppose I've done more on the Madeleine McCann story than I've done on any other story and that must be true and I know I've travelled more on that you know I know that part of the Algarve in Portugal incredibly well.
I know lots of people only when I go out there now people sort of an expats and locals Greek me warmly, but you can see Behind Their Eyes there's that kind of alcohol are not not not more Madeleine McCann and I'm quite vociferous when people do this if they're open about that.
You know it is simple isn't it? There's a girl still missing you know why would you get fed up with the reporting of it? You know somebody really sorry for the mccanns.
Yeah? I mean it's it's a fascinating case for reporters because I think it's the only case that I've ever covered and it and it's not unique untold but it's the only case I've recovered wear.
There's not a shred of evidence of anything there's no trial of evidence and coppers.
We'll talk about it on there investigation play Follow the evidence.
There's no evidence to follow.
There's nothing that's ever been corroborated as firm evidence.
So you know I know there's a theory that they are still pursuing which I have some insight into and I don't know whether that will ever solve the puzzle but it it is a desperately sad story.
I mean it resonated like no other missing child story has ever done William my experience and I think there are lots of reasons for that.
I think principally she disappeared in her in her in circumstances that we all recognise some on holiday in the sunshine.
You know we all take our young kids to those kind of places because we feel safe and you can let your kids off off the leash a little.
And you don't keep quite the eye on them that you might do at home that they're given more freedom in that's partly why you want them you want to take them on those kind of holiday.
So they can run around with her with with a bit more freedom.
They are a couple Kate and Gerry who haven't really had much engagement with the media and they are there are obvious reasons for that and there's no reason why they should why we should expect them to but they have been I mean more vilified online particularly than anybody like I can ever think of I did I did an expose of the sort of stuff that was with said and written about them online.
It was extraordinary.
I remember it well and it was compiled not by me.
It's compile buy some people who were very sympathetic and everybody knew that they were victims of this kind of bile.
Nobody quite had an idea of the extent of it and when it was presented to me in this file it it really was extraordinarily.
We did a big report on it and we sent a we encourage the file to go to the police yet.
The people who compiled it.
Sent it to the police and the police took 6 months before deciding to take no action and I just thought that was extraordinary.
I don't know whether the mccanns themselves would have would have welcomed some police action.
I think Jerry did same one interview that somebody thought the police should done should look more closely at it, but when you consider since then in our footballer send her a racist or sexist tweet and suddenly.
There's a police investigation.
I still can't quite understand why the death threats of violence that was heat on them account and still it today has not led to some kind of prosecution and I mean the story itself is as tough dominated the last 1200 years.
Does my life but but when I did that report and part of it was to expose a woman who was one of those not the worst by any means but one of those who had attacked mccanns and criticize them two or three days after my report this woman committed suicide so that just gives you an indication of the tension and done in a what's involved and I can't think of the right words to describe it, but she was clearly suffering from mental health problems.
Yeah, she she wasn't I didn't know that at the time and I in I couldn't I couldn't pursue that side of it because we're not allowed to Delve into to medical records.
I mean I don't know whether I would have had ever discovered that maybe I would have done.
I'm in the enormity of that will will always be with me.
I hope it won't define my career as a crime reported but it.
Just shows you her the passion and under the horror of what's going on on social media around the mccanns, but of course it is happening around lots and lots of people some people can brush it off.
I mean I brush off the stuff.
That's written and said about me and others of my colleagues engage with their antagonists on Twitter page.
Very good at that.
She does a lot of it.
I mean there's an argument that you know if you're putting stuff out there publicly and people criticise or praise you then you know maybe you should engage, but I don't have the time or the inclination and it's usually pretty horrible stuff, but it's all horrible online funny people in the street.
You know who I am almost 100-percent.
It's all very good and friendly and supportive and people say nice things.
It's just that difference between.
Face-to-face engagement and an online engagement how many abuses everyone seems to be a crime expert now? There was a, church in Weybridge for example about how easy terrorists could gain access about that was just them.
I didn't really think too much about what I said and it was there been a shooting.
I think in France somebody gone into a church was it France I can't remember but we just looked for a community that reflected the size of the community where this shooting at happened and we settled on Weybridge I think the population was similar and don't you just went into the church and I just wanted to illustrate how churches particularly you can just walk in there is no security you can walk in and you'll find people generally worshiping and they're completely concentrated on.
They doing if you wanted to do it at this church in Weybridge you could just walk in and throw a bomb or open fire with a gun and you know you would hit lots of people and probably kill lots of people in it would be very very easy and I have probably having ready for free what I said in my and it wasn't even live I can't I can give you an excuse that I was live and you know like I haven't thought about it.
I had thought about it to a degree but not enough and it just did a piece of camera and said been I've just been in there are 20 people there if I had a gun.
I could have killed them in and everybody says that very Alan Partridge it's great day today.
Isn't it? Yeah? I just didn't think enough and I did you going to make the obviously you are a few.
I should have producer Atwood the let's take the opportunity to do that now.
Yeah, ok that producer whoever it was you got it wrong.
You should not have let me off my leash quite so when I so easily final question then.
Doing this for decades there must have been some incredible highs and some incredible those which are the kind of the two that stand out high and low there are lots of highs the lowest of course was the death of that woman who had exposed over her attacks on on the mccanns.
I mean nothing has has been as low as that that's quite obvious highs and there are lots to talk about I could talk about the exhilaration of covering the Balkan Wars something that I got out of my system very quickly and I'm glad I did tell lots of memorable things.
I think probably the most memorable and this is a bit odd I covered the Cromwell Street murders and one day I walked into the pub the local Cromwell Street pub.
It was round the corner and I was in the gent's the pub was deserted it was during the Cheltenham races and it would.
The clientele of the pub with mainly Irish that all of the races they're all gone off on a charabanc to Cheltenham races, so there were other doesn't have seen the pub and I went into the gent's and I'm standing there doing my business.
I looked to the side and there's an old boy there and I recognise him from his glasses and it's Laurie Lee who is one of my literary Heroes is his novels not so much is poetry and we both went back out and he was sitting at the table on his own and I went over and I said Mr Lee any said yes and I told him who I was I said do you mind if I join you or he said join me and I spent half an hour and his company I bought him a whiskey, and it was just fascinating to meet somebody like him who I'm in such a fan of his novels and I was curious.
Why he was there is the Wellington Arms was the pub at it's not open anymore.
And he said that he been reading about the Cromwell Street murders.
He lived in his old home boyhood home in slad a village up the road 15 miles away.
We've been reading about the Cromwell Street murders protect your bout the pub which is quite a colourful pub, Olney persuaded his wife was a bit younger than a quite a bit younger than him driving down to visit the pub and just soak up the atmosphere and he's a bit disappointed.
They weren't more people in there, but it was very engaging with me and I said where is your wife it said? Oh, she's sitting out on the car, so I couldn't persuaded to come in so he was interested about the investigation and I filled in as much as I could it was the early days must have been early March and it had a month into the investigation and he was absolutely fascinating and fascinated in what I had to say and I just thought it's incredible that I'm sitting here with Laurie Lee so in the end, so we both had to go and I helped him out like
Took my arm and I let him out and introduce me to his wife who was sitting waiting in the car yet drumming her fingers on the on the dashboard said hello quite politely but that was it and we put him in the car.
They drove off and then he died at 2 years later, but yeah, I've got him to sign something for me and something for my wife was also a lorry Leaf fan, and I just thought it was something Congress to to meet in the middle of this awful awful investigation somebody a poet you know whose novels were so poetic was just done the juxtaposition was extraordinary and something that term that will live with me forever as is the Cromwell Street murders, which another thing people always say what's the greatest stories ever cupboard and it was at the time in 1994 and it's still is the grimace crime Story of ever covered Cromwell Street murders for lots and lots.
Of reasons and nothing has really lived up to the horror of that story mountain.
Thank you ever so much for an incredibly interesting conversation and please keep up the great work.
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