Anorak | Neville Thurlbeck says Rupert Murdoch spiked stories that upset his friends

Neville Thurlbeck says Rupert Murdoch spiked stories that upset his friends

by | 20th, January 2012

NEVILLE Thurlbeck, former News of the World Chief Reporter and News Editor, writes on his blog :

When Rupert Spiked the Splash

THERE has been a request on the blog for examples of stories where a lot of time and money was spent getting nowhere. Examples are rare but I can think of a couple.

The problem here of course is because the stories didn’t go through our rigorous legal process, it would be fatal to name the stars involved.

Oooooh! Go on…

The celebrities will sue and yours truly will be forced out of his ‘umble ‘ovel in the ‘ills and into the workhouse.

Publish and be damned. Or use twitter.

In September 2005, I was dispatched to Austria to prove an A list celebrity was conducting an extra-marital affair with a beautiful young socialite.
Because of the nature of the investigation, I had to stay in the Hotel Schloss Pichlarn in Irdning – for five weeks. It was a five star hotel and not inexpensive.

Photographs were taken and affidavits sought and obtained from several witnesses including a taxi driver. A tape recorded interview was obtained from a police officer who had moonlighted as a body guard. The girl was traced and she was persuaded to come on side.

She was interviewed and every minute piece of proof was combed over.

Then more pictures of the girl with make-up artists flown out to give her a final bit of polish.

Girl. Why do tabloid writers call gown women girls? Or is Thurbeck talking about Roman Polanski? In which case, as you were…

Finally, a lawyer was sent from London to handle the swearing of the affidavits in case an Austrian lawyer blabbed and leaked our big scoop. And all of the above had to be translated into English!

Crr. So. What happened?

The celebrity in question was in litigation with us on another matter. It was entering delicate stages and we didn’t want to damage the resolution process.

What about blackmail? Ye, it is illegal but so is phone hacking. In for a penny…

But this pales into insignificance compared to the experience of Phil Taylor, my former colleague and good friend. In 2002, Phil’s mission was to prove that the wife of one of the most famous celebrities on the planet had a secret past as a high class prostitute.

Princess Diana? David Furnish? What a magical mystery, eh, readers ?

Phil, one of the best reporters I’ve come across, spent months travelling all over the world using his considerable skills persuading and cajoling her former mesdames, clients and friends to help him prove his story.


It was a daunting task. But he succeeded. The story was certain to land him Scoop of the Year. Phil was writing up his story in the office when the editor Rebekah Wade, now Brooks, went out for lunch with Rupert Murdoch. She returned with a face like a double bass.

Well, she did once front the Wonder Stuff. Music is in

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Posted: 20th, January 2012 | In: News Comments (4) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink