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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Head-to-head: Witness payments
David and Victoria Beckham
The collapse of the Victoria Beckham kidnap trial has once again raised questions about the media paying witnesses in criminal cases for their stories. A journalist and a lawyer disagree over whether offering money is the right thing to do.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of The Society of Editors

All sorts of media organisations, and indeed other people including police, sometimes pay for information.

The idea of saying that that should never happen is one of those 'never say never' cases in my view.

Sometimes there is a public interest in information being revealed and the only way of revealing it is to make a payment.

Newspapers don't particularly like paying for information, they'd like to get their information for nothing. They don't pay for it lightly.

The News of the World would have looked at this case very carefully and looked at the evidence that was being offered - as I hope the police and Crown Prosecution Service would have done before they went ahead with the prosecution.

The decision has to based on whether information which comes out would not have come out any other way. That's the issue we've got to deal with first.

Secondly, they obviously have to make sure its correct information.

Lord Carlile QC, Liberal Democrat peer and home affairs spokesman. He also defended former Royal butler Paul Burrell.

I think it's a shocking case.

The judge plainly decided that the way in which the evidence was generated was an abuse of process of the court.

A huge amount of public money has been wasted, a number of people have been put on trial who should not have been put on trial and the papers have been sent to the attorney general for further enquiry.

Newspapers should be straightforward and editors should be straightforward.

They should say: "Sorry, it's quite wrong that we should interfere in the course of justice in this incorrect and improper way."

Chequebook journalism in the dock
03 Jun 03  |  England
Paper defends 'kidnap' coverage
03 Jun 03  |  England
Beckham 'kidnap' case collapses
02 Jun 03  |  England

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