Tony Martin finds success on chat show trail

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The Independent Online

First there was Tony Martin, the campaign for freedom. Now there is Tony Martin, the tour, the book, and even the badge. For a man once described as a recluse, the Norfolk farmer jailed for shooting a burglar dead is demonstrating a remarkable appetite for meeting and greeting.

Now that he is at liberty again, the 58-year-old bachelor has become the unlikely darling of the chat show and lecture circuit. Tomorrow, Mr Martin will appear at the Oxford Union as a guest of honour to speak about his views on law and order. Cambridge and Durham universities are also bidding for him to address their students, and next month he will appear at a dinner for the Traditional Britain Group, which defends an Englishman's right to defend his home. He has already spoken at Oundle School and addressed the conference of the UK Independence Party.

The Tony Martin "industry" is not limited to his guest appearances. There is even a "Tony Martin Security Services" badge, retailing at £5, and soon a book about his life to satisfy his ever-growing number of devotees, who include Charlton Heston, the veteran Hollywood actor who champions gun ownership.

Mr Martin is clearly a man who is keen to control his own image. The original title chosen for his memoirs was "My Right to Kill" but he considered this too provocative. Instead, Countess Valentina Artsrunik, his publisher and the wife of reformed armed robber John McVicar, has made a hasty amendment.

"It [the title] will not be revealed until the book is published in February," said the countess who runs Artsrunik publishing. "This book will reflect absolutely and totally his views."

Malcolm Starr, a friend and unofficial manager, said that Mr Martin had used his earnings from his after-dinner speeches and television appearances to buy farm equipment. "The majority of the public have said he deserves the money he earns," Mr Starr said. "He has been in prison for four years and he deserves a lot more than the amount he's received."