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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas