Given the Leveson Inquiry is in full swing can you imagine this appearing on a website supplying the national media – from the People to the Press Association?
” Do you know of a story, a scandal, something that made you interested, chances are that a newspaper will pay for that information. Do you know where a prominent person is living or what they get up to, is a celebrity having an affair that you know of, do you know anyone who’s on reality TV? You can earn yourself good cash now by calling 01277 (deleted) 24 hours a day and remember, nobody ever needs to know it was you that told us!
All sorts of people have been paid thousands of pounds by us for giving information that leads to a picture being sold or a story being written, are you a doorman, police worker, civil servant, probation officer, prison officer, nurse? Make some extra money without anyone ever knowing…
Never go direct to a newspaper, come to us, it’s what we do, we are better positioned to get you much more cash. ”
The full story on this is available at http://www,exaronews.com and on the Independent at http://ind.pn/M48suc. Since the disclosure the website has been rapidly redesigned and the page taken down but the website page is captured on the exaronews.com website.
Part of his agency’s website is devoted to its “surveillance photography”, offering a menu of services, including “covert foot follows”, “covert vehicle follows” and ”remote technical surveillance”.
“You can utilise the very same skills that are used by the security services and the police,” clients are promised.
“Our surveillance team has worked for and been trained by various police and government surveillance agencies within the UK. If you need it photographed without being seen, we are your experts.”
So what is the explanation of the managing director of http://newspics.co.uk , ( one Matt Sprake, whose company is owned by his wife, Marion, described in her Companies House return as a banker.
According to him the wording on his agency’s website was “just advertising” aimed at the “general public”.
He said that he would have removed it by now but for the fact that his website is “broken” and cannot be edited because the company that created it went bust.
“We are in the final stages of a company redesigning our website,” he said. “If there was a way of changing it, believe me, I would.” That seems to have happened remarkably quickly after the story was published.
On the social-media website, Myspace, he puts his income at between £100,000 and £150,000 a year.
Sprake continued: “I used to work for a specialist department at the Met in Scotland Yard looking, basically, at terrorism work. The level I was working at involved very covert stuff.
“I got out after 10 years. You are limited on the number of years you are allowed to do, so I am now doing other work. But I have still got all that training that is very handy to have.”
He also claimed his staff adhered to the Press Complaints commission code and his site promised to do surveillance work which would be covered by the Code.
The PCC were not so impressed – a spokesperson pointing out the code covered editors of papers not agency photographers.
I tried to contact Trinity Mirror publisher of The People- whose editor has already given evidence to Leveson . Their pages are all over his website including the page offering cash to public officials. But answer came there none.
One cannot wonder why the reputation of the media is at such a low with such behaviour. If Sprake is telling the truth, it seems to me the height of folly and hubris in these troubled times to put this on a website. If he is not this is exposing something else that is not particularly savoury and very worrying for ethical standards in the media and the people who are supplying him.