Andy McSmith's Diary: Long arm of the law leaves another journalist hacked off

 

Behind the good intentions of the Hacked Off campaign and others who want to protect the innocent from the appalling behaviour of some journalists, there was always the risk that in their zeal they would create an atmosphere in which any shyster threatened with exposure can cry that their privacy is being invaded.

Anyone who doubts that should heed the case of Neelam Desai, who is due to be sentenced this month at Croydon Crown Court after admitting fraud. After her case came up, the Croydon Advertiser started to hear stories that did not form part of the court hearing, from people who believed they too had been fleeced by Ms Desai. A man from Leicester became obsessed with a woman calling herself Nisha Patel, with whom he made contact through a marriage site. Nisha Patel was a name Neelam Desai admitted in court to using. Though he never met “Patel”, the victim agreed to pay for an expensive holiday for two, and ended up parting with £35,000. The money was paid to N Desai, who “Patel” said was her travel agent. The mobile phone number “Nisha Patel” used was traced to Neelam Desai’s home address.

Having heard this tale, the Advertiser’s chief reporter, Gareth Davies did the right thing, which was to approach Neelam Desai for a comment. He knocked on her door. She shut it in his face. He tried to speak to her through the letter-box. She called the police. Later, he sent emails inviting her response to allegations that the paper was thinking of publishing.

Now the extraordinary part. On Monday, three Metropolitan Police officers turned up at the Croydon Advertiser’s offices to deliver Davies a “Prevention of Harassment Letter”. It informed him that Neelam Desai “does not wish to be contacted or written about by Mr Davies” – no surprise there – and warned in block capitals: “Harassment is a criminal offence.”

Davies told the UK Press Gazette that he protested to officers that he was doing his job, to which one retorted: “That’s what the News of the World said, and look what happened to that.”

Still crazy about the Krays

A bizarre feature of our time is the enduring fascination with 1960s criminals. It was the era when the smart set discovered the working class, and a photographer of the stature of David Bailey set out to immortalise those low-grade London gangsters, Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

They were unpleasant thugs, yet they continue to fascinate. In May, Gorringes auction house in Lewes, which normally specialises in antiques and fine art, will be selling love letters and other items that once belonged to Frances Kray, née Shea, who made the mistake of falling for and marrying Reggie Kray, and who committed suicide in 1967. Undoubtedly, someone will pay hundreds of pounds for these macabre mementoes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform