No buyers for Mary Archer story - yet


Mary Archer’s story, being touted around Fleet Street last weekend by her agent for £250,000, is unlikely to find a buyer – in the short term.

Previous Press Complaints Comm-ission favourable rulings when criminals and their associates have received cash for interviews have depended on two things – new material being involved and the fact that payment was necessary to elicit the story.

Industry sources believe that any "new material" should have been made available to the court and that a ‘I’m standing by my man’ story would not need payment – the PCC upheld a complaint against a similar piece by Victoria Aitken about her father Jonathan in The Daily Telegraph.

Cheekily, News of the World editor Rebekah Wade has said she would have the story, but since it was an NoW investigation which caused Jeffrey Archer’s downfall, it is unlikely his wife would deal with the paper.

Phil Hall, editor when the sting was perpetrated and now editor of Hello!, said: "I would be fascinated to do an interview with her but there is no question that I would pay her for it. It wouldn’t get past the PCC."

The Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday seem to be the favourites to take up the offer – but not now. "Maybe a couple of months hence when the heat has died down," said one senior source.

lThe end of the Archer trial fell just right for the Evening Standard. The paper lived up to its tradition of reacting fast to major news breaks when it put out a special edition on the verdict.

Just 50 minutes after the PA snap at 12.21pm, copies of the Standard were coming off the presses with 12 of the first 13 pages devoted to Archer. The leader page by editor Max Hastings was headlined: "He made a fool of every sucker who took his Krug." The circulation lifted on the day by 60,000 copies.

The Cambridge Evening News put out an extra edition to have the first reports of the funeral of Lord Archer’s mother. With the service taking place at 10.30am on Saturday, the funeral coverage would have missed the News’s normal weekend print slot.

Reporter Rose Taylor filed running copy from the crematorium while trainee Joanne Riley reported from Grantchester, where a funeral service was held later.

Photographers Matthew Power and Warren Gunn were at the crematorium to send digital pictures to Roger Adams, masterminding the photographic operation at the office.

Editor Colin Grant said: "It was an excellent effort by everyone involved."


By Jean Morgan

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