Editor at centre of row leaves the talking to spin-doctors

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The Independent Online

As authorities struggled yesterday to quell outbreaks of vigilante violence across the country, targeted paedophiles were not the only ones who had apparently "gone to ground".

As authorities struggled yesterday to quell outbreaks of vigilante violence across the country, targeted paedophiles were not the only ones who had apparently "gone to ground".

Rebekah Wade, editor of the News of the World, has said nothing publicly about the effect of her "name and shame" campaign, made no television appearance or radio interview and has refused other newspapers' requests for quotes.

Despite her campaign dominating the headlines for more than two weeks, her only interview was to the journalists' trade magazine Press Gazette, when it began. The NoW has been represented by the managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, and executive editor, Robert Warren. All calls to the editor are diverted to the company's new public relations officer, Hayley Barlow.

Supporters say this is due to the unwritten rule at News International (NI) that editors rarely appear in public, because Rupert Murdoch believes the papers should speak for themselves.

The media commentator Stephen Glover accuses Ms Wade, 31, in the latest edition of Spectator magazine of being a "rookie editor who apparently lacks the courage to defend herself on television". He adds: "Ms Wade is a public figure and she has done something which has had public consequences. Yet she cowers in her tent, oblivious to the battle raging outside which she has started."

But one NI insider said: "They've brought in this press-training thing where the executives are stuck in front of a camera and have to undergo a mock interview, under tough questioning. And they discovered [Wade] wasn't very good at it. They're not putting her out there because they didn't think she's up to it." Another source says she did a series of such interviews in Ireland "very well".

Publicly, the newspaper stresses Ms Wade has the full support of staff. But insiders say there is a feeling the campaign was a mistake. Others yesterday told of a "siege mentality", with the newsdesk stopping to watch television whenever vigilante mobs appeared on screen.

Paedophiles - and those mistaken for them - are not the only ones who have had to be placed under guard. Since Ms Wade's name and address were put on the internet, she and other executives have had death threats. All NoW editors have state-of-the-art burglar alarms and panic buttons at their homes fitted by the company. In Ms Wade's case, measures have had to go further.

"She's got security outside her house, and a bodyguard," said an insider. "He gets picked up by her chauffeur in the morning, then they pick her up, then he takes her into News International. If she's going to a restaurant, even with Ross Kemp [her actor boyfriend], he will go with her and check the restaurant out."

The unlucky estate dwellers in Portsmouth are not the only ones to have their lives disrupted.

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