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Sun troop scoop on Iraq? A free weekly got there first!

A free weekly newspaper scooped The Sun to report on plans to send 800 Royal Marines back to Iraq.

The national newspaper tagged a splash on the story that Tony Blair was to send the troops of 40 Commando into the flashpoint city of Falluja as an “exclusive”.

But its report was 24 hours after the Taunton Times revealed that the Taunton-based Marines were on the move.

Taunton Times news editor Matt Chorley has reported on the movements of the 40 Commando for the last two years – and after speaking to contacts on the base and families living in the town, felt sure there was a story.

In response to his legwork, a Marine based at the Norton Camp told the paper: “We are working really hard at the moment packing up equipment and kit.

“We are due to go back out to Iraq again but with the amount of work we are doing at the moment will be sooner.

“We will be going to the part of Iraq where it is all kicking off at the moment.”

Ministry of Defence sources would not comment on the plans, but the word from the base was strong enough for the Taunton Times to run with the story.

Editor Debbie Rundle said: “Matt’s excellent contacts provided us with a first class piece.

“It just shows how weekly titles can beat the big boys as well as their local opposition to the big story by being the eyes and ears of their community.

“Even the local MP, Adrian Flook, called the office to congratulate Matt on scooping The Sun.”

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