Monday, September 5, 2011

#NOTW : Paul McMullan admits he destroyed Jennifer Elliott, daughter of actor Denholm Elliott, resulting in her suicide.

ImageMcMullan: "There was no wrongdoing here at all. There was just someone who had fallen on hard times and actually was very fragile."

Paul McMullan's story about Jennifer Elliott alleged she was begging outside a London Tube station, and was working on occasions as a prostitute. Mr. McMullan told me the paper had acted on information it received as a result of a payment one of his colleagues made to a police officer.

McM: "The going rate for that kind of thing might have been two to five hundred pounds, and that would have been authorised, and he would have been paid, and that's one policeman kept happy, and he would have been on the lookout for another story, because, you know, money is money."

"Do you know for sure that this story came from a policeman? Do you know for sure that he was paid for the information?"

McM: "Yes, that's what I was told. I was put on the story, saying 'this has come from a policeman who has told us that this is really the person, go and find her'".

The reason why Paul McMullan was particularly concerned about this story, and why it was playing on his conscience is because of what happened next:

McM: "There was a few stories about her over the coming years about how she was still struggling with drugs and then I remember the last one, which was reporting on her suicide, and ... err ... yep."

"She took her own life?"

McM: "She did, yeah."

"Do you think what you wrote had any effect on that? Do you think that decision had anything to do with what you wrote and what you did?"

McM: "Yeah, I'd totally humiliated and destroyed her. It wasn't necessary. She didn't deserve it. She was having a bad time after her own dad had died, and, yeah, I went a step too far. And it was based on, now, a criminal act, so you've got to question in some cases, criminal acts perpetrated by journalists aren't always justified and in this case it was not. Not only was it not justified ,it was downright wrong - I sincerely regret it, and again, if there was anyone to apologise to, I would, but they're all dead - mother's dead, she's dead, father's dead. So in any way seeking atonement, I can at least say in this case we were wrong."

News International and the News of the World refused comment.

Sadly link no longer works .

The World At One" today - about 12 minutes 50 seconds into broadcast. After a Sept 2010 interview, he came back to the reporter who had interviewed him, wanting to speak about an article he had written in 1995 - a News of the World expose on the daughter of the actor Denholm Elliott:

Jennifer Elliott (1964–2003) hanged herself after Paul McMullan of The News of the World published a series of articles claiming that she was living on the street and working as a prostitute, by his own admission using information obtained illegally by bribing police officers