'The Sun' escapes censure over Biggs escapade

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The Independent Online

The Sun will not face censure by the Press Complaints Commission for its role in the return to Britain of Ronnie Biggs, the Great Train Robber.

The PCC's decision was published on the newspaper's website yesterday. Complaints about the story were rejected because claims that The Sun had not acted in the public interest or that Biggs had benefited from its reports were "not sustainable".

An investigation was launched into the affair in May after The Sun chartered a private jet to bring the 71-year-old back from Brazil accompanied by his son, Michael. Biggs had suffered a series of strokes and was extremely frail.

The newspaper flew Bruce Reynolds, another member of the train gang, and his son, Nick, to Rio de Janeiro to meet Biggs. There were unconfirmed reports alleging that the paper paid £20,000 to Biggs' son, £12,000 to Mr Reynolds and £12,000 to his son.

Guy Black, of the PCC, said at the time: "The rules say payments should not be paid to criminals, their family or associates, unless in the public interest."

The Sun's website welcomed the decision as a total "vindication of payments made by The Sun to land the scoop".

It quoted the PCC ruling as saying: "It is impossible for the commission to conclude that the result of the newspaper's payment – and the consequent return of Biggs to Britain – was against the public interest."

The PCC concluded: "To have censured the newspaper would have indicated that the actions of the newspaper were not in the public interest, and that money was being channelled to Biggs in order, in some way, for him to benefit from his crimes. Neither was sustainable."

It added: "In this case, the result of the newspaper's action was to return to justice a wanted criminal who had been at large for over three decades."

Biggs, who declared he wanted to die in Britain, 35 years after he fled to Brazil, is now serving out the remainder of his 30-year sentence at Belmarsh prison, south east London. He had served only 15 months for his part in the 1963 robbery of a Glasgow to London mail train when he broke out of prison in 1965.

The train driver, Jack Mills, died a few years after being coshed during the robbery.

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