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Ex-pat editor beats world to Travolta case retrial

A former regional press man now editing a Caribbean daily found his paper’s website at the centre of world media attention after it broke the news of the retrial in the John Travolta extortion case.

Two people including a former Bahamian senator recently went on trial in the Bahamas accused of attempting to extort £25m from the actor.

The judge was forced to order a retrial after an MP declared at a party rally that one of the accused, a former Senator, had been cleared – while the jury was still deliberating.

Fearing there may have been jury misconduct, the trial judge had no option but to order a retrial, with the Nassau Tribune breaking the news on its website, Tribune242.

Tribune managing editor John Fleet, a former chief sub on the Hartlepool Mail, said: “It was a tricky time because we had the first night of a major political party convention, and the Travolta case verdict due at any time. As such, we had every possible permutation of page one worked out.

“But then an MP at the convention mistakenly declared that one of the accused had been acquitted, and the trial judge ordered a mistrial – which threw all our plans out of the window.

“As we were redrawing page one, and moving other stories about, we were constantly updating our website with everything that was happening at the courthouse and at the convention. And because Tribune242 is fully reader interactive, the amount of traffic and responses to the story just went wild.

“Within minutes of the judge’s ruling, we had the full story online, beating all the major US/UK networks and newspapers.”

Figures for that night later revealed that the Tribune242 website received 192,448 hits with 10,979 unique users.

Ex-pat Fleet, who was also a former night editor on the Scottish Daily Express, has been at the Tribune since March. He took over from retiring managing editor John Marquis.