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Anorak | Tabloid Legends: Benjamin Pell the Bin Man

Tabloid Legends: Benjamin Pell the Bin Man

by | 12th, November 2014

TABLOID legends: Benjamin Pell the Bin Man used the so-called dark arts to get a story. He was very good at it.

….for all his idiosyncrasies, Pell is highly intelligent and could have had an illustrious career had he not flunked his exams after blowing £70,000 on a horse in the Derby the day before his finals in 1986. He eventually took a third class law degree from University College London and founded a cleaning company. But it was a large bag of confidential letters outside the bins of London estate agents EA Shaw that set him off on a more lucrative line, selling stories to papers.

For years, he would go out at night, dressed as a binman to fish through the rubbish of top law firms and talent agencies. He was rewarded with some big stories, notably those about Elton John’s cash problems and Jonathan Aitken’s misdemeanours. He was in constant demand from Sunday newspapers which would pay huge sums for his findings.

“I did my last bin raid in February 2001 because I was involved in [TV presenter] Jill Dando’s murder case, and I had to go to the Old Bailey every day” he says, “I’m a completely different animal now.”

No need to hack:

Pell, an orthodox Jew who infuriated Sunday newspapers by refusing to take their calls on the Sabbath, first started his rummaging career by going through estate agents’ rubbish while he was running an office-cleaning business.

In September 1997, a friend suggested he try the nearby office of Elton John’s manager, John Reid. In just a week of rummaging, Pell stumbled on one of his biggest scoops – a letter from Mr Reid to Richard Branson telling him he couldn’t include Candle In The Wind on a Princeess Diana tribute album. Pell contacted the PR man Max Clifford, who sold the story to the Sun.
Buoyed by his success, the binman devoted the next three years to rubbish. Bulging binliners were stacked in every corner of the house and garden where Pell – now 38 – still lives with his parents in Hendon, north-west London. The smell was horrible, he says. “I’ve been lucky that my parents never kicked me out.”

He estimates that he has now notched up 25 front page stories, and hundreds more inside…

Journalists ripped him off too, he adds. Despite claims that he earned £500,000 a year, he puts the true figure at no more than £25,000. “It was never about the money – which is a shame because that made it easy to rip me off.”

And he is incensed by the “hypocrisy” of journalists on the Guardian and Independent, who, he says, encouraged him to raid people’s bins but later criticised what he did.

This documentary on Pell is from 2000:

 

 



Posted: 12th, November 2014 | In: Celebrities Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink