Payment to Tony Martin was justified, says PCC

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The Independent Online

The Press Complaints Commission ruled yesterday that the Daily Mirror was justified in paying £125,000 to the convicted killer Tony Martin for an exclusive interview on his release from prison.

The commission said Mr Martin "had a unique insight into an issue of great public concern" and the Mirror had a public interest defence in making the payment. "It was clear that what Martin had to say was of considerable importance in generating a major debate about law and order," the commission said.

Mr Martin was convicted of manslaughter after shooting Fred Barras, 16, who had broken into his farmhouse in Norfolk in 1999.The case provoked fierce public debate over the right of individuals to protect their homes.

The commission said the newspaper had not glorified or praised Mr Martin and it accepted that the Mirror did not condone his actions.

The Mirror described the ruling as an "historic moral victory". It argued that if it had not made the offer of payment "the public would have been deprived of information that was in the public interest".