AddThis SmartLayers

'Blair kidnap plot' man rejects interview cash to speak to local paper instead

The Epsom Guardian beat the nationals to secure an interview with the man at the centre of an alleged plot to kidnap Tony Blair’s five-year-old son, thanks to good old-fashioned contacts.

Martin Matthews from Fathers4Justice was offered money for his story by several papers, but he decided to speak to local reporter Kevin Barnes – a journalist he already knew and trusted – instead.

Assistant editor Andy Veale said: “The story was an excellent scoop for the Epsom Guardian.

“When many of the national newspapers offered Martin Matthews money for his story, he turned to his local newspaper and our reporter, Kevin Barnes.

“The major factor was that he knew his story would be told without any spin – he knew we could be trusted not to distort his side of the events.”

In a telephone interview Martin told the paper that he had not joked about abducting Leo Blair and said he had “not even the slightest idea where these rumours came from”.

Special Branch officers told national newspapers they overheard discussions while investigating extremist elements of the protest group, and some of its former members were quoted as saying that Martin had joked about a kidnap plan after a Christmas demonstration at Downing Street.

The allegations prompted founder Matt O’Connor to disband Fathers4Justice.

But Martin told Kevin, who had interviewed him previously, that he had never said anything about a kidnapping, even in jest.