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'In denial of murder' is TV drama – not newspaper fact

Journalist Don Hale received the OBE for investigative journalism – and a drama about his fight to free convicted murderer Steven Downing is to be screened on Sunday.
Don, a former editor of the Matlock Mercury, has already seen the BBC1 drama, and fears the dramatisation may not reveal the full picture about his seven-year fight against the miscarriage of justice.
Here he reveals what the scriptwriters added – and what they missed out.

‘In Denial of Murder’ is an entertaining, well produced and brilliantly acted two-part drama.

It is centred around my lengthy campaign for justice for Stephen Downing and is cleverly interwoven with the early life of the victim Wendy Sewell.

It is however, just a drama! It is NOT a factual documentary and has been especially written for prime-time television.

In my opinion, several crucial elements of the story have been omitted and I believe it fails to provide a wholly accurate version of events.

In the drama, my character, Stephen Tompkinson has me saying and doing several things that never really happened.

For example, I have never called Wendy Sewell the ‘Bakewell Tart’ or the ‘Martini Girl.’ And the timeline has unfortunately been seriously amended without reason.

These errors and others clearly present a false impression.

Trying to edit nine-years research and information into a two-hour slot was obviously mission impossible for producers Hat Trick and the BBC, and it seems such a shame that 50 per cent of the filming was cut from this landmark case.

I also feel there is a backlash element of the ‘Hutton’ report, in that the BBC are still reluctant to rock any boats in authority and have edited rather heavily.

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