by Peter Burden, Julia Dillon
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To the News of the World, anyone is fair game, irrespective of the hugely disproportionate damage its victim might suffer when set against what is often an entirely legal and completely private act, where no one else has been harmed. In the case of revealing illicit love affairs it is often the case that a potential injured party -- an unknowing wife for example -- will be substantially more hurt by the public revelation of her husband's infidelity than by the act itself. In revealing it, no wrong is being righted and no public interest is being served, beyond the titillation of the readers. Meanwhile, several people's lives are irreparably damaged.
Take the case of Arnold Lewis, a maths teacher and lay preacher, which was reported by the News of the World in October 1978. Lewis had put an advertisement in a contact magazine: "Join our Welsh hills picnic party for remote rural rambles and shining summer scenes. Pub social meeting first."
No doubt the nature of the magazine allowed readers to decode the precise purpose of this gathering. It struck a chord somewhere in the Screws newsroom, and reporter Tina Dalgleish was despatched with top snatch photographer, Ian Cutler to the rendez-vous in the Brecon Beacons to see what might be in store for any hopeful "randy" ramblers. At the meeting point there were only Mr. Lewis, another couple and the intrepid reporters.
They were led up a lane to Mr. Lewis's caravan, where they were offered sherry with chocolate biscuits. Pornographic magazines were laid out on a table and an open drawer revealed neatly arranged condoms. Mr. Lewis explained that his wife wasn't there because she wasn't part of his swinging activities. She thought he went motor rallying at weekends, though he wished she were there too.
After a little discussion about the non-emotional nature of wife-swapping, the reporters declined the offer to join in, and left the three consenting adults to get on with what is, though not to everyone's taste, a perfectly legal activity, which Mr. Lewis had disguised from his wife so as not to upset her.
Tina Dalgleish cobbled together a story from what had effectively been a non-event, and two days before it appeared in the paper, she phoned Mr. Lewis, as was customary, to inform him that it would be in the next edition of the paper.
That Sunday morning Arnold Lewis's body was found in his car. He had killed himself by inhaling exhaust fumes. He was 52.
At the inquest, counsel read Mr. Lewis's suicide note, and asked Dalgleish, "Does that not upset you?"
"No not really. I can see that it might upset his wife, but it doesn't upset me."
The editor at the time was Bernard Shrimsley, who in an interview with Matt Engel in 1995 admitted, "If we'd known what the result would be we wouldn't have done it."
"Did you lose sleep over it?"
"I still do."