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Chronicle coverage sparks national media frenzy

The Bath Chronicle sparked a national media frenzy with its reports about a house which had been taken over by squatters – ending with The Sun paying £2,000 to evict them.

Claire Simpkins and Chris Davis had taken up residence in a house owned by 81-year-old Iris Davies who lives in a care home, two days before her nephew Paul Hamnett was due to sell the property to fund her care costs.

After Mr Hamnett phoned the Chronicle, the paper splashed on the story – which then prompted similar articles in the Daily Mail, the Mirror, the Daily Express, The Sun and features on GM:TV and BBC1.

Chronicle editor David Gledhill (left) has now blasted The Sun for its decision to pay the squatters £2,000 in its pursuit of a “tedious” headline.

In a comment article, he wrote: “Incredibly The Sun newspaper saw fit to pamper to their squalid demands and pay these low life £2,000 (DSS please note) to move out.

“For the record, we didn’t pay them a penny. We refused to pay the initial £100 demanded for an interview and we refused to pay the quickly inflated £300 for a photograph.

“But The Sun, for the sake of a few column inches and the tedious headline ‘Squatcha – Sun man evicts pair from house of dying widow’, paid them more than most of us earn in a month and you can bet they don’t declare it for tax (Inland Revenue, please note).”

David told Holdthefrontpage: “I think it’s appalling from The Sun – all for the sake of a headline and a story. Mr Hamnett is not at all pleased that The Sun paid the squatters.”

Mr Hamnett told the Chronicle: “I told them (the squatters) last Thursday that I would get a media campaign started. Just one phone call to the Bath Chronicle is what I needed.

“I wasn’t going to pay for them to get out.

“I am not pleased that The Sun has paid them but I would not imagine any tabloid paid in goodwill – they have done it for a story.

“But they are out and for that I have got to be happy.

“I sincerely do thank the Chronicle for its coverage and interest.”

David also told Chronicle readers: “Current laws on squatters say that no one, a tenant or a squatter, can be removed from a property by use of force. The law was designed to prevent unscrupulous landlords kicking out their leasees and quite right too.

“But lo and behold it also means that someone could walk into your home (as long as they don’t break in) and take up residence. And in the short term there is nothing you can do about it.”

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