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Banned reporter left to cover matches from a ladder

A sports reporter has been left covering football matches from the top of a ladder after being banned from the ground of a club he has reported on since 1976.

Roy Webster, (71), who writes match reports on Ridgeons League Premier Division side Wroxham Football Club for the Evening News in Norwich and the Pink ‘Un, has been perching on a friend’s garden wall to watch matches since he was told to stay away from the club’s Trafford Park ground.

The club said Roy’s “repeated adverse reports and personal comments in the Pink ‘Un” had upset members and lost it a major sponsor.

The ban was imposed in September, but has only just come to light as the Evening News had hoped private discussions over the past three months would resolve the situation.

Deputy editor Tim Williams said: “We had hoped to sort this out amicably between the club and ourselves and arrive at a mutally agreeable solution, but unfortunately this hasn’t been achieved.”

Now, in a further bid to get the ban lifted, the Evening News has turned the spotlight on Roy’s plight through the pages of the paper.

Roy says he has also been contacted by 20 fans who say they will stay away from matches until the ban is revoked.

He said: “I’m getting into the winter of my life now and I’ve got to drag myself up a ladder. I can do it now, but I don’t know for how much longer.

“I still don’t really know what the complaint is; I see my role as to inform, analyse, explain and to entertain — hopefully.

“I have had a lot of support and have got justice on my side. I was shocked by the ban. I know there had been rumblings of dissatisfaction but in this game you have to take the rough with the smooth.”

Evening News editor David Bourn said: “On a purely human level, to force a 71-year-old man to work on the top of a ladder for hours on end in the freezing cold is as cruel as it is ridiculous.

“To ban Roy Webster, or any correspondent from a football ground is a complete over-reaction and basic infringement of press freedom.

“It’s unacceptable for any organisation to try to dictate to the media who should provide copy for our publications.

“If a journalist is not free to report independently then those reports have no value. Wroxham’s decision is an outright attack on basic press freedom — one of the most important facets of any democracy.”

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