Stories from 1998:

The decline of the court reporter

Published November 1998.

A couple of years ago, I was in Nottingham researching a story that collapsed so quickly that by nine o’clock in the morning, I had run out of work. For want of anything else to do, I decided to look in on a court case that had been reported briefly in the Nottingham Evening Post the previous day.

The complexity of poverty

Published October 1998.

It is always the same. As you turn off the dual carriageway and first see the estate in the distance, it appears so neat and clean and comforting, all those tidy rows of red-brick semis with square patches of green and the occasional neighbourhood store, the very model of a public housing project; then, as you arrive on the edge of the estate, you start to see the vengeful graffiti on the walls, the sodden scraps of litter and moulding mattresses and humping mongrels on the grass; and when, finally, a door opens and you step inside and start to see and hear the people there, you sink into a world of infinite difficulty.

The strange case of the vanishing boy

Published September 1998.

Just over four years ago, on the afternoon of Monday June 13 1994, a 13-year-old American boy named Nicholas Barclay vanished on his way home from playing basketball near his home in San Antonio, Texas.

An example of organised child abuse – news and feature

Published August 1998.

News –

Poverty and damage

Published August 1998.

In the brothels in the West End of London, I came across a particularly poignant statistic. Whereas 10 or 15 years ago a rich man who wanted to take a cane to the back of a young prostitute would have had to pay £100 for each stroke, he can now do so for only a tenth of the price. It’s a matter of supply and demand: there is a market surplus of desperate young women.

Poverty and benefit payments

Published August 1998.

Frank Field is a good man. He also knows more about welfare benefits than anyone else in Westminster. Nevertheless, for the 13 million men, women and children who live in poverty in Britain, his forced departure from the cabinet last week was good news.


Published July 1998.

When 18-year-old Daniel Joseph finally went berserk it was hardly a surprise. As long ago as last summer he had been diagnosed as psychotic. And the warning bells rang ever louder, up until the time he killed Carla Thompson: Nick Davies on another tragic failure for Community Care

A Class Act. By Andrew Adonis and Stephen Pollard

Published May 1998.

This is a perfectly good book, which should never have been written.

Cries Unheard. The Story of Mary Bell. By Gitta Sereny

Published May 1998.

Maybe this book should never have been written.

Bob Hoskins and the filming of Captain Jack’s Adenture

Published May 1998.

He was obviously an idiot. In the summer of 1991, most national newspapers carried a short story about a man they called “Yorkshire’s answer to Captain Haddock” who lived in Whitby and owned an ancient boat and, for some bizarre reason, had decided to sail all the way to the Arctic with a bunch of friends, thus threatening chaos, confusion and the imminent loss of life.

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