Lawson blasts MoS over photo 'theft'

Mail on Sunday journalists have been condemned as “lazy crooks” by Sunday Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson in a copyright row over pictures of the nanny involved in the Blunkett affair.

The row centres around the Sunday Telegraph’s scoop which revealed accusations that Home Secretary David Blunkett fast-tracked the visa application of his ex-lover, Kimberly Quinn’s, nanny. The report sparked the inquiry into the allegations. The Sunday Telegraph revealed that a DNA test had shown Blunkett to be the father of Quinn’s two-year-old son.

The claims were repeated in the later editions of other newspapers. But only the Mail on Sunday used a picture of the nanny Leoncia Casalme – apparently scanned from the Sunday Telegraph’ s first edition.

A furious Lawson told Press Gazette : “I can’t find anyone here who has seen anything like it in terms of flagrant theft. They are lazy crooks really.

“I wasn’t surprised that they copied out all the words because one has got quite used to it -but actually stealing the picture. No other paper did this, it’s highly unusual.”

” The Sunday Times picture desk just said ‘great get, well done’, the Independent on Sunday phoned up and said ‘is it for sale?’ -and we told them no; but at least they made the effort – the Mail on Sunday simply stole it.”

The picture was taken by Sunday Telegraph photographer Tony White who could have made 50 per cent of any syndication fees – thought to have been worth at least £10,000 on Sunday night.

Double take: Sunday Telegraph’s photo and (inset) the Mail’s image

Lawson said no attempt was made by the MoS to buy the picture.

He said: “The problem with this situation is that if you pursue it legally you probably wouldn’t get any more through the courts than they would have been prepared to pay anyway.

The industry needs to sort this out.”

A spokesman for the Mail on Sunday told Press Gazette : “Steven Quinn ( Kimberly’s husband and managing director of Vogue ), was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying ‘it’s one of the most pernicious things about modern Britain, people selling their private lives for sums of money’.

“I wonder what he will make of the Sunday Telegraph seeking to profit from his misfortune?”



Lawson denied his paper’s business links with Kimberly Quinn had made this week’s scoop any easier to obtain.

He said: “It’s a tremendous achievement by Daniel Foggo, Robert Peston and Patrick Hennessy – they were the three reporters on it. Clearly Olga Craig did a very strong job with the focus – she had interviewed Blunkett before so had a very strong feel for it.

“Like all these things it’s about team work and planning. People assume that because Kimberly Quinn works for The Spectator , which is part of the Telegraph group, somehow that made it all very straightforward.

“I can assure you it was not that straightforward at all.”

Because the story was in the Sunday Telegraph’s first edition it was followed up in the later editions of the other national Sundays.

Lawson had considered running with a “spoof” front page and substituting the Blunkett story in after the first editions had been put out. But he said he didn’t want to risk another paper, which may have been investigating the story, having it on their front page.

He said there were also some teething problems with a new production system and he didn’t want to risk the story not getting the maximum impact and TV publicity.

By Dominic Ponsford

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