Ex-reporter 'proud' of News of the World job


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The Independent Online

Former News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck today said he had been "proud" to work for the now-defunct Sunday tabloid.

He told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards: "My experience of the News of the World is that it was highly professional.

"It was staffed by some of the best journalists in Fleet Street, who worked with great diligence."

Mr Thurlbeck was one of a series of reporters, executives and lawyers linked to News International giving evidence to the inquiry this week.

He said: "I was proud to work alongside all of my colleagues and I had enormous respect for all of them.

"There may have been a small caucus of people who give us a bad reputation now. Unfortunately the bulk of those very decent journalists have been tainted by that and are now finding it extremely difficult to get work.

"My experience of working with the vast majority of people on the News of the World was wonderful. They are an exceptional bunch of people who could work on any newspaper in the world.

"The News of the World was not the best-selling newspaper in the world for nothing. It was there because it was put together by some of the most gifted journalists of their generation.

"I was proud to be part of that organisation."

Mazher Mahmood, the newspaper's former investigations editor told the inquiry that he did not "entrap" people.

He said that his most high-profile story had been about Pakistani cricketers subsequently convicted of match-fixing.

Mr Mahmood, who became known for disguising himself as a "fake sheikh" to carry out undercover reporting, described how he had exposed "criminal and moral wrongdoing" during a 20-year career at the News of the World.

He said that his work had led to more than 260 "successful criminal prosecutions" and added that the people in his stories were "predisposed" to commit crimes.

"It is annoying, this myth of entrapment," he said. "We don't entrap people. Frankly, I don't believe you can entrap people in the manner they suggest."

Asked about the subject of one investigation, he said the newspaper provided the "environment for him to commit the crime - a crime which he was pre-disposed to commit".

"These are people who are pre-disposed to commit these crimes anyway," he said.

"All I am doing is providing a snapshot of what they are doing anyway.

"No matter what the size of the carrot, you cannot entrap people into committing these crimes. However, the public perception is that because they have been offered a huge carrot, that has resulted in the crime taking place."