A south Yorkshire newspaper pulled out all the stops to breach a wall of silence and secure a great exclusive.
Staff at the Conisbrough and Denaby Community Newsletter, part of the Doncaster Free Press series, worked tirelessly to ensure they could reveal the family connection between a gunman and a member of Scotland’s parliament.
The story centres around Derek Hyslop – a man arrested following a spate of gun crime across five English regions including the Newsletter’s patch.
When the paper heard he was the nephew of Cathy Jamieson MSP, the race was on to get the family connection officially verified.
In 2005, it was widely reported that Miss Jamieson’s nephew had attempted to blackmail her while serving a sever-year jail term for manslaughter.
But both the Crown Prosecution Service and Miss Jamieson’s office would not confirm that the arrested man was the same Derek Hyslop, leaving the dilemma over whether to publish.
It emerged during his trial for the gun offences at Taunton Crown Court that Hyslop had attempted to rob two Doncaster banks, before holding a taxi driver hostage for four hours. The cabbie was so frightened that he crashed his car into a wall in a bid to escape.
The Newsletter secured an exclusive interview with the taxi driver but still couldn’t get official confirmation that Hyslop was Miss Jamieson’s nephew.
After checking the electoral roll, newsletter editor Jim Oldfield discovered there were only eight people in the UK named Derek Hyslop.
The former Sun and Mirror man phoned a library in Derby, where Hyslop had been convicted of manslaughter in 1999, and persuaded a librarian to check newspaper cuttings.
Jim managed to match Hyslop’s age from the Derby case to the recent hearing at Taunton Crown Court.
After consulting the Newspaper Society’s Political, Editorial and Regulatory Affairs team, he published the front page splash.
At Taunton Crown Court, Hyslop pleaded guilty to seven counts of robbery, six counts of possession of an imitation firearm and two counts of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear or violence.
Jim said: “I have been in this job for four years but I haven’t had a story like this since I left The Sun.
“These days, I think it’s all about commitment and wanting to be there – the stories don’t come to you, you go to the stories.”