On 28 December, the Southampton based Solent News and Photo agency carried out an exclusive interview with David Yeates, father of murdered Jo Yeates, at his home in Hampshire.
The agency distributed the story on that day to a number of selected publications including the Southern Daily Echo.
Shortly after they had filed, its staff noticed that the story has been been reproduced on the Daily Mirror website. The story featured each and every one of the agency quotes, but quoted Mr Yeates as having ‘told the Southern Daily Echo.’
Solent boss David Holt claims the piece was sent out by the Press Association, under the byline Rod Minchin.
NAPA, which represents independent news agencies across the UK, has written to PA editor Jonathan Grun over the incident, while Solent said it is is consulting lawyers with a view to taking legal action for breach of copyright.
Mr Holt said: “This wasn’t a case of someone ‘nicking a couple of grab quotes’. It was a wholesale lift – they had filed 237 words, the Mirror piece was 241 words long.
“Once you removed the phrase ‘told the Southern Daily Echo,’ there was a single word of difference between the two.”
“Since Ms Yeates went missing we have had a team of reporters working on the story every day. They worked right through Christmas and our reporters were visibly upset when news came through that a body had been found.
“So to find our original work running, without license, on numerous newspaper websites as far afield as Lancashire and Belfast, was galling.”
On 30 December, Solent filed another exclusive interview with the parents of Jo Yeates. commenting mainly on the arrest of suspect Chris Jefferies.
Again it was posted on the Southern Evening Echo’s website and the agency claims that within minutes it too was reproduced in its entirety by PA.
In its letter, NAPA calls on Mr Grun to apologise to Solent, adding: “The days when the network of freelances in the UK enjoyed a healthy working relationship with PA are a fading memory.”
Mr Grun said: “The Press Association has at all time acted in good faith in our reporting of this story.”