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Evening Mail hack's 'shithole' scoop leaves nationals scrambling for story

A news story broken by the North West Evening Mail was picked up by the nationals and brought five minutes of fame for reporter Sarah Crooks when she was interviewed on Radio Five Live.

She reported how a manager of Barrow in Furness’s Thorntons chocolate shop had branded the town a “shithole” in an online blog.

Her story resulted in the man being hounded from the store after locals descended on it to complain.

The self-styled “Stevo” said on his MySpace social networking site blog: “I’m the manager of the new Thorntons! I’m so stressed.”

The manager blasted the town after vandals smashed the shop’s window the day before the official opening.

He wrote: “The first day I was there the little shits put my shop window through stealing over a grand’s worth of stock!”

The Dalton Road store was besieged by furious Evening Mail readers after Sarah exposed the manager’s “hate” for Barrow.

The story was taken up by local newspapers everywhere, as well as most of the national daily papers and local TV.

The Times repeated the Evening Mail’s explanation of how the chief executive of Thorntons was forced to apologise and hand out free chocolates after the public retaliated to the manager’s gripes.

Sarah Crooks was interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live, where she told presenter Aasmah Mir that Barrow folk were “exceptionally friendly and loyal”.

The station followed that up by asking listeners to describe “places you have been made to work that you hate”.

North West Evening Mail deputy editor Phil Pearson, said: “I’m not surprised the story has spread so far. It’s good to see people standing up for their home town. People everywhere can relate to that. Barrow’s a great place.”

The paper wrote in its comment column: “The disgust felt by many Barrovians towards Thorntons manager Steven Beall is entirely understandable.

“On the basis of a few weeks seconded to work here, Mr Beall slagged off the town in his MySpace blog for all the world to read.

“As might have been expected, he vanished from the brand new Café Thorntons as soon as we published the story yesterday.

“It’s important to remember that he was speaking for his own silly self when he wrote his offensive website posts.”

When the Evening Mail confronted Steven Beall he said he’d changed his mind about the town.