Express 'exclusive' ran in EDP three years ago

Express Newspapers’ so-called worldexclusive interview with Tony Martin was originally published in the Eastern Daily Press more than three years ago.

Martin was released from prison last week after serving three years of a manslaughter sentence for killing a teenager he caught burgling his home.

The Daily Mirror bought the exclusive rights to his story for £125,000 in a controversial deal which could contravene the Editors’ Code of Practice banning payments to criminals.

With Martin signed to the Mirror, it was unclear how the Daily Express had obtained what it claimed was a worldexclusive interview with the Norfolk farmer on the day of his release.

It has now emerged much of the Daily Express ‘interview’ first appeared in the Eastern Daily Press in April 2000.

Express Newspapers approached the EDP 10 days before Martin’s release and paid a syndication fee to use its piece.

Martin spoke to EDP reporter David Winning for five hours in a telephone conversation before his trial. No payment was needed to obtain the interview.

The fact that Martin spoke at length to the EDP without asking for any payment could ultimately undermine the Daily Mirror’s case with the Press Complaints Commission.

The Mirror will claim a public interest defence for breaking the code – but to do so it will have to prove that without making the payment Martin could not have been made to speak.

EDP editor Peter Franzen said: “Martin has only become interested in money because he’s been advised to become interested in money. We think that’s what happened.

“When he spoke to us, there was no question of money. He was just happy to explain his side of the story.

The Mirror hasn’t brought out anything new.”

The original EDP exclusive interview with Martin was obtained while he was in hiding before his trial.

Reporter David Winning, then 24, passed his telephone number to Martin via close friends of the Norfolk farmer and was surprised to receive a call from him at home one evening at 8.40pm. Winning kept Martin talking for five hours and turned the story into a 2,500-word exclusive.

At the time, other news organisations had already indicated they were interested in paying Martin for his story.

Express Newspapers declined to comment.

Tonight with Trevor McDonald producers Granada paid a representative of convicted killer Tony Martin, before he appeared on the programme last week, but insisted that none of it should go to Martin.

Malcolm Starr, a friend and campaigner for Martin, was paid an undisclosed sum by Granada “for expenses and loss of earnings” in his efforts to get Martin on the programme.

A Granada spokesman said: “Our payment is solely to Mr Starr and he has undertaken that no part of it will go to Mr Martin, directly or indirectly.”


By Dominic Ponsford

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