The journalist

Freelance Gerry Brown on kiss'n'tell, Tories, tip-offs, and technology
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Indy Lifestyle Online
"WITH LADY BIENVENIDA BUCK it was a simple matter of corroborating the main points of her story and engineering a meeting between her and the Chief of Defence Staff. So I went to the Dorchester hotel and got her on film pecking the Chief of Defence Staff affectionately on the cheek, and him rushing away in his Ministry of Defence limo.

Had we just had a tip-off we would have had to pull out all the stops which would have probably taken months to do. We would have had to find out what social occasions they'd been to together in the past year, then interview all the fringe people and hope that those being investigated didn't find out or that their nerve would go and they would confess all, as sometimes happens. Getting your cheque book out is a lot safer than investigating from the outside.

Technology now plays a major part in investigations. I use tape recorders and video equipment, particularly video since you can get a camcorder into a situation an ordinary camera can't reach. It sounds like a sinister version of Jeremy Beadle but it all counts as valid evidence.

Nothing is ever too hot to handle, it's simply a matter of getting the evidence. We all love gossip about people we know and so once you become a national figure nationally known, people want to hear about it. There is a fear and loathing about what we do, but what the public don't realise is that people build themselves up, it's not the newspaper editors who do it.

Some politicians are just likeable kind of people, and therefore having their extra-marital affairs raked over has no real impact on either their friends or the public. However the Tories made a rod for their own backs with their 'Back to Basics' slogan, so when you get people like Tim Yeo having extra-marital affairs people are going to rub their hands with glee. Since politicians use their wife and kids as publicity props you have no great moral dilemma in having a pop at their private lives.

A great indicator when you are getting to the end of a sleaze investigation and the word gets back to whoever you're investigating is their first reaction to your allegations - who they turn to or how they respond tells you an awful lot.

The basic rule of thumb is that anyone who employs a PR agent gets what's coming to them if they step out of line. Of course the biggest PR machine is the Government. The Government whips have got the dirt on everyone within their 'black book'; they are sitting on a mountain of sleaze and will leak it to the Press when they see fit, briefing their Lobby boys to pass the word back to the investigative hacks, which is the ultimate hypocrisy.

Because we tend to be anonymous characters we don't tend not to be accused of being muck-rakers, We are however accused of entrapment, but I don't think the office lawyers would honestly let us get away with entrapment."

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