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Newspapers divided over self-styled vigilante 'journalist'

A fierce debate has erupted among the Midlands media over the tactics of a self-styled paedophile hunter who describes himself as a journalist.

Stinson Hunter has dedicated himself to ensnaring predatory paedophiles online by setting up online profiles for underage girls, then waiting to be contacted.

However his activities have started to polarize views among newspapers on his patch following his appearance in a hard-hitting TV documentary.

While the Coventry Telegraph exposed the 33-year-old’s prison record and Burton Mail reporter Steve Ashby questioned his credentials as a “so-called journalist,” his hometown paper the Nuneaton News has backed his plans to “take his crusade to Parliament.”

Leader of the pack . . . self-styled journalist Stinson Hunter, centre, on the Channel 4 documentary The Paedophile Hunter

Mr Hunter, who describes himself as a journalist on his Facebook page, says he was inspired to start his work by the TV investigative journalist Roger Cook, whose Cook Report programme was a huge hit in the late 80s and 90s.

“He is a legend.  He inspired me, his no-nonsense attitude towards it, he was controversial and I wanted to be controversial too,” he told the Nuneaton News in a recent interview.

“From day one, all I have wanted to do is hold up a mirror to society and say ‘look, this is happening and something needs to be done about it.”

However in the Burton Mail’s ‘According To’ column, where the paper’s journalists are afforded a personal opinion, reporter Steve Ashby said he didn’t appreciate Hunter parading around “calling himself a journalist.”

Wrote Steve: “I can see why he might come to that conclusion – after all, he does conduct his research and he even gives the men he captures the chance to defend themselves, and then posts this online.

“However, as a reporter for the Burton Mail if I decided to take this exact method of luring out a predator and then bombarding him with photographers and interrogation before splashing their face on the front page, I would expect to wind up in court.

“There are already so many things that give journalists a bad name, so the thought of adding a vigilante to the list doesn’t appeal to me,” he went on.

“He either needs to conform to the same standards that all journalists do, or he needs to stop calling himself one.”

The Tamworth Herald, Hunter’s local paper in his formative years when he was imprisoned after a £250,000 arson attack on an empty school, agreed that “everyone is united in their revulsion to paedophiles”.

But in a leader column last month the paper admitted that “Hunter’s methods can be divisive.”

The weekly added: “He has thousands of fans on the Internet, but many question what he does, not least the police who have shown real concerns over his actions. Similar stings by others have failed to end in convictions and left innocent people’s lives in tatters.

“That is the devastating power of the lens.”

The vigilante’s actions have had the most tragic consequences when it emerged that last June a 46-year-old man killed himself after he was confronted by Hunter over claims he had groomed a 12-year-old girl.

However other people he has ensnared have been successfully convicted on his evidence.

Mr Hunter stands by his actions in the wake of criticism that suspects are ‘tried’ on social media before being taken to court.

He added: “I am going to carry on, I am still going to do it but I am going to do it in a different way.”

Stinson Hunter's Facebook page on which he describes himself as a journalist.

Stinson Hunter’s Facebook page on which he describes himself as a journalist.

 

25 comments

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  • October 15, 2014 at 9:31 am
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    Roger Cook is a journalist who has worked for various news organisations. This chap is a vigilante, many may think his ‘work’ is commendable but he is not a journalist, even if he was inspired by one!

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  • October 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm
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    He seems to have major problems with anti child abuse campaigners who express opinions or concerns.

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  • October 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm
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    Looks like you can not express your opinion on here either

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  • October 15, 2014 at 4:07 pm
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    Nothing in my comment that broke the house rules, points were factual as seen in the documentary and readily available in the press.

    Moving on I am disappointed with the slating of the Police who do a fabulous job gaining convictions. The Police are not perfect as seen yesterday in the news but The paedophile hunter does not gain more convictions than them, he doesn’t sit and go through thousands of child abuse images like specially trained police officers do something of which his followers think he does, I don’t see him correcting anyone of that. He does not target paedophiles another myth he is not correcting his followers on.

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  • October 15, 2014 at 6:34 pm
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    Anyone notice how, while warning old Roger he was endangering himself by walking through the estate, Stinson alerted a young mum in effect to beware of this potential child-rapist? (“Excuse me, luv…”)

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  • October 15, 2014 at 9:29 pm
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    A journalist? Does he hold any credentials to substantiate? Just had a look round his FB and twitter that is not journalism that is creating hysteria based on little fact.

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  • October 16, 2014 at 11:26 am
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    Bob. Take your point about his veracity. But I though modern journos were people who lazily lifted quotes for death crashes tributes suicides etc off Twitter and Facebook. Maybe I got that wrong.

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  • October 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm
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    Bit too close to a witch hunt, though it appears he’s caught some real ones. On his own, there’s no brake pedal being applied by editor, news desk, subs… too much vigilante, no moderation: mistakes will happen…

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  • October 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm
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    He has simply copied to catch a predator from the USA. I would also go as far to say say that he is more interested about his public profile ” at least it will raise my profile ” than he is concerned about child safety.

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  • October 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm
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    If someone claimed to be a “journalist”, would it not follow that the individual concerned would at least have Primary School grasp of the English Language?

    Rather than learning at school, he burned one down and was imprisoned for 10 years.

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  • October 16, 2014 at 3:39 pm
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    Kieren Parsons, who now uses the name of “Stinson Hunter” is attempting to hit out at those he perceives, however inaccurately, as authority figures. This would appear to stem from his experiences whilst incarcerated in prison for 10 years.

    Any psychiatrist will tell you that his “hunting down” of those who he relates to his experiences is classic psychotic behaviour, bordering on obsessiveness.

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  • October 16, 2014 at 5:42 pm
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    Agree with Ben,his own profile comes first, this has been heightened today with the announcement of no new stings till the new year, I wonder what the team intends to do about child safety in the mean time. Vlogs, mini documentaries?

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  • October 16, 2014 at 6:03 pm
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    Why slate and criticise some one on how they talk, their past, inspiration chavy friends the fact he is not a journalist or a special trained policeman when he is removing perverts from the streets in a way that the police when presented with evidence provided by himself can get convictions on these people? Pretty sure thats alot more than the judgemental critics have ever done to protect children from these kimd of people? Not bad going for a chavy ex con who incorectly classes himself as a journalist… Imagine what all the people who talk down on him with a full education, money and a clean record could acheive if they took the time to focus on this horrible very close to situation. Id rather have him doing what he is doing than not…

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  • October 17, 2014 at 10:34 am
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    I seriously cannot believe some people and some of these comments.

    Describing him as “Chavvy” and “Look at the state of him”

    How low can you get? You are ridiculing somebody for the way they look. How shallow and sick some people are.

    This man does more for society than most of the so called “leaders” of the country. He despises these monsters and shows them for what they really are.

    As for the man who killed himself, it was self inflicted. I’m sorry if that comes across harsh but its the truth. His widow was on TV crying about how the children grow up without a Father but why would anybody want a paedophile to be the father of their kids? Seriously – There are some very messed up people on this Earth. She also forget to mention the damage it does to kids throughout their life.

    Stinson might not be a “journalist” but I’m 100% sure he doesn’t give a damn about his title. As long as he is locking up these vile creatures and keeping our children safe then that can only be a good thing.

    Society and the British public – Wake up and realise.
    This could be your child.

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  • October 18, 2014 at 3:51 am
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    I must admit that I am perplexed by this claim to be a “journalist” If I set up a Facebook account and claimed to be a Doctor, would that make it true? Highly unlikely.

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  • October 18, 2014 at 9:55 am
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    He “doesn’t give a damn about his title”? In that case, why does he keep referring to his unearned name as a “journalist” and TV Star?

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  • October 18, 2014 at 11:14 am
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    Question: why, if people make comments not complimentary to “Stinson Hunter” they are not posted on here? Are there censors at work here?

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  • October 19, 2014 at 8:19 am
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    “However, as a reporter for the Burton Mail if I decided to take this exact method of luring out a predator and then bombarding him with photographers and interrogation before splashing their face on the front page, I would expect to wind up in court.”

    Wind up what? His watch? Not bothered about the idiotic paedo hunter so much as this awful Americanism creeping into the English vernacular. English people END up in court, they don’t WIND up anywhere, for God’s sake.

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  • October 20, 2014 at 9:44 am
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    Get over it, this guy is the future of journalism. Digital-only and he doesn’t even get paid. At least he finds his “work” rewarding.

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  • October 20, 2014 at 10:52 am
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    How is this the future of journalism? Please explain. He doesn’t get paid, why should he? Is he holding down a job and providing for himself? He says he is skint, homeless but can anyone explain how he manages to travel the country, afford iphones apple macs etc, he doesn’t sign on or claim any benefit so how is this person living? Genuinely interested because he says he doesn’t make money out of what he is doing which in reality is a bit of a fib he in fact was paid by The Sun for the Accrington sting. On the other hand he lives up north the rest of the team down in the Midlands, how can he continue with his work are the public pledging money going to provide him with everything he wants?

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