“I have a story I want to sell as front page news in the newspaper and I know it could bring me a lot of money.
I am a long term prison visitor of a notorious serial killer, who I know very very well. I have information that has not ever got out into the press as yet, and am looking for the best price. How much could you pay?”
Alison says: The issue here isn’t how much will a publication pay you but can anyone legally pay you for your story? Unfortunately I don’t believe you can receive any payment for it and depending on the information you have, it is debatable whether you can tell it at all.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) Editorial Code, which Featureworld abides by, is quite clear that journalists cannot pay friends, family or colleagues of convicted criminals unless it is in the public interest.
You say as a prison visitor you cannot be said to be a ‘friend’ of this serial killer. However as you have visited him regularly for ten years, it could be difficult to prove you are not a friend. And while any newspaper publishing the story might plead ‘public interest’ that can also be hard to prove.
Also while as a voluntary prison visitor you are not a paid member of the prison service, you could be said to be part of the prison service. Under the Bribery Act it is a criminal offence for journalists to pay public officials. While admittedly it is a grey area, some might claim as a prison visitor you are indeed a public official.
Unfortunately much of the above has yet to be tested in the courts so few precedents exist for editors to refer to and you were not happy to investigate any way of telling your story without payment.
However, even telling your story without payment could be problematic as there is the issue of privacy. Criminals too have the right to privacy and any article could fall foul of this law too.
Do you have a question for the sell my story clinic? Do you want to sell your story to the press or a magazine? Contact me for free and confidential advice using the form to the right hand side of this page >>>