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Newspaper at centre of bomb hoax plot after journalist received explosive warning

A local newspaper found itself at the centre of a bomb hoax case which reached its conclusion yesterday.

Philip McHugh,(52), of Milton Avenue, Clitheroe, began a blackmail campaign against supermarket giant Tesco in 2007.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of blackmail and two of bomb hoaxing and was sentenced to six years at St Albans Crown Court.

One of the hoax bomb threats was sent to the Ledbury Reporter’s office which was manned by just one journalist at the time, Gary Bills-Geddes.

Gary, who opened the package and alerted police, had to give fingerprint and DNA samples because he had handled the mail.

The letter came in a brown envelope with a “Just William” stamp and contained the following statement: “A bomb will go off between 2pm and 7pm today, Saturday July 14 in TESCO supermarket, ORCHARD LANE, LEDBURY HR8. Please take the appropriate action to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.”

The supermarket was one of 14 Tesco branches closed that day, as sniffer dogs searched the premises for explosives.

Other stores closed across the UK including in Glasgow, Bury St Edmunds and Grimsby.

The search for McHugh involved police forces across the West Midlands and the Serious Organised Crime Agency.