Russell Myers is a reporter for the Mail On Sunday (MoS). He began his University degree course in 2001, which makes him at least 30 years old. And he has, by his own admission, spent a lot of time recently poring over at least six months’ worth of messages on a 16 year old girl’s Twitter feed. Because Russell Myers is the hack who lured and entrapped Paris Brown.
In happier times: Paris Brown and Ann Barnes
Those who have only seen the TV reports of Ms Brown’s resignation from the post of Kent’s Youth Police and Crime Commissioner may not know the backstory beyond the MoS front page splash last weekend. What most observers of the affair will not know is that the paper acted in a way which will make even seasoned observers of tabloid misbehaviour sick to their stomachs.
The MoS story had been planned for some days beforehand. Myers would have been an ideal choice for its writer: 30 years old is as close to “youth” as can be found in Northcliffe House, and his first job in journalism was on the Kent Messenger. He would have been keen to impress, too: with Paul Dacre closing on the exit door, there could be a lot of deadwood on the way out very soon.
But Myers did not just pore obsessively over Paris Brown’s Twitter feed, and here is where the nastiness and dishonesty comes in. The MoS then contacted Ms Brown and set up a photo session with her. This took place on Saturday morning. She then went off for a chat with a journalist – presumably Myers – happily believing that the novelty of her role was going to spark a nice human interest story.
Pass the sick bag ... Mail entrapment
We know this happened because librarian and blogger Ian Clark got a screen grab of the @YouthPCC Twitter feed before it was closed down. What Ms Brown was not told was that her personal Twitter history had been selectively trawled, and that the story would be about that. That is why I used the terms “lured” and “entrapped” – because that was the name of the game.
He's as happy as a pig in the proverbial
It got worse after the story was splashed: Myers then spent a significant amount of time telling anyone who was listening to “look over there”. He confirmed that he had not been tipped off, which only makes his behaviour look creepier. He also confirmed that he had gone through six months of Paris Brown’s Tweets. And, in truly barrel-scraping mode, he sought to pin the blame on Kent PCC Ann Barnes.
A big boy did it and ran away!
Ian Clark registered his disgust at the MoS: “On the very day it was planning a story designed to destroy her reputation, it invited her up for a photoshoot and a chat with one of their journalists”. Yet again, when you think the cheaper end of the Fourth Estate can’t get any lower, it proves you wrong. Not only are the Dacre doggies preying on teenagers, they’re too yellow to admit it to their faces.
Don’t go to the papers. And never, ever go near the Mail. You have been warned.