1 February 2015

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Trainee reporter goes undercover to expose sex party

A trainee reporter just three months into the job went undercover to expose a sex party held at a local hotel.

Matt Cannon from the Brentwood Gazette carried out an undercover investigation into a party held by a female sex worker at Brentwood’s Holiday Inn, after it was one of two session openly advertised on Twitter.

And he managed to capture images of the group-sex party on his mobile phone, most of which were too graphic to use, after the secret camera he had planned to use stopped working.

The paper splashed on the story last week after seven men handed over £40 cash for a one-hour romp and it has passed on information to police and the hotel.It also reported how graphic images from the sex party were posted on an unlocked Twitter account later that night.

Gazette editor Nev Wilson, who is also senior editor of the Essex Chronicle Media Group, said: “Full credit to Matt for this expose, there were incredible guts shown by covertly using his phone to film and take pictures after his own secret camera failed to function.

“Despite the complications, enough footage and pictures (obviously not for print) were gathered, along with the images that the Twitter account later posted, to convince me we had enough to publish. And the hotel and police thanked us for the information we provided them with prior to publication.

“The story has, inevitably, already gained a lot of attention online and I’ll watch the newspaper sales figures with interest to see if sex really does sell in this instance. Who said local news was boring!?”

While the Gazette did not use the classic line “our reporter made his excuses and left”, it did point out that Matt played no part in the proceedings, nor handed over any cash.

Matt, who only joined the weekly paper in April, said: “It was a little bit dicey there for a moment when the camera packed-up but I wasn’t about to miss the chance to capture some of the action.

“There were a few nerves as I didn’t know quite what to expect inside the room. I can safely say I’ve never seen anything like it. It was all very awkward.

“In my opinion it was definitely a party to join late and leave early.”

The paper’s story can be read here and Matt has also penned a first-person piece about the experience.


  1. Sub up North

    Playing devil’s advocate here, but is this really news? Yes, it will probably titillate the readers but people having sex behind closed doors in the privacy of a hotel room is surely their own business.
    And remember – Max Mosley sued, quite rightly, when the News of the World invaded his privacy.
    Meanwhile, politicians and businessmen get away with dodgy deals that cost jobs and lives.

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  2. Ian Halstead, West Midlands

    Maybe something to include on the next NCTJ syllabus …
    You would have thought the news desk would have also sent a more experienced reporter too though.
    Was Matt’s shorthand up to the evening’s demands?

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  3. Digger

    Did Matt manage to take everything down?

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  4. Bob from Burnley

    Matt’s career is off to a flying start.
    When something big comes up in the future, Matt will be just the guy to handle it.

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  5. Just wondering

    I would have thought this was one of those occasions when longhand would have been more useful than shorthand.

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  6. Madman

    This gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘six inches, single column’

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  7. Kendo Nagasaki

    All splendid stuff. Though let’s not pretend there is any public interest in publishing this. Group of adults gather to have consensual sex. So what?

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  8. Big Dave

    Hmm not really sure what the story is here?

    He’s basically arranged to meet a prostitute in a hotel room – I don’t see there’s any great scandal.

    Still, beats covering council meetings I suppose!

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  9. Onthefence

    Fair play to the lad for bringing a good, old-fashioned, NoW-type story to the front page of his local weekly.

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  10. LookingForAWayOut

    “They were met by a man in smart attire on the door who took payment and photographed the proceedings on his mobile phone. He reassured those inside that he would be careful to avoid capturing faces in his shots”.

    Quite brave of Matt to expose the shenanigans but how do you get into something like this without paying at the door?
    Have to agree that I can’t see how this is in the public interest.

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  11. Sunny south

    I also don’t see the story here. Adults have sex in hotel room and nobody gets hurt. Also, to summarise the first person piece, he goes into hotel, takes off shoes, then leaves. Fair play he had guts to go in there and do it, which is all good training, but I’m really not sure what’s been achieved really…

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  12. sham63

    Be more interested to find out whether this woman was (despite appearances) really a willing participant. Is she a victim of trafficking or pimping? A man takes the money and she ‘avoids eye contact’ – sounds very suspect to me. Surely this is the real story?

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  13. TheLNH

    Why is this news? It’s titillation masquerading as journalism. What has he ‘exposed’? Sex between consenting adults, which was already being publicly discussed on twitter anyway. The paper will probably win an EDF Award for this, as well.

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  14. Big Dave

    sham63 – may well be the case but even so, I’m sure there’s much more serious criminal activity going on in Brentwood day in, day out.

    Might have made something as part of a series of investigation into the local sex trade but very odd for a one-off front page story.

    Bit like a teenage boy giggling at a dirty magazine.

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  15. Bill, London

    Eh, where does it say she ‘avoids eye contact’?

    Interested to know how no money was paid though for the reporter to get so far?

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  16. Tog

    What would have been news would have been exposing the inevitable links with organised criminals who use events like this to sell drugs – mainly cocaine and amphetamine – and recruit new customers for both their pharmaceutical business and more expensive prostitution.

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  17. Frank Wilson, Leicester

    Without wishing to put a dampener on a local story, it seems a bit mean to spoil some harmless fun … the paper might want to carry a regular column listing future events of this type. It might boost circulation.

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  18. Steve Anderson, East Yorkshire

    It’s true what they say, then.
    The pen-is mightier than the sword!

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  19. TheLNH

    Why is this news?

    They will probably win an EDF Award for this claptrap.

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  20. Curious

    Was this an ‘inside story’ or an ‘in-depth investigation’? I think we should be told…

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  21. Bagless Vacuum

    …Cheeks, eruptions and pull-outs are all ‘Inside’, apparently. The byline should be ‘Finbarr Saunders’

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  22. About Time

    - Is anyone getting hurt?
    – Is a crime being committed?
    – Does anyone really think this sort of thing isn’t going on every day of the week up and down the country?

    No, no and thrice no!

    So, where’s the goddam story? It’s just cheap titillation which paints the impression that newspapers haven’t moved with the times.

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