The Sentinel newspaper

The Daily Record, a reporter called Keith McLeod and some nasty ‘journalism…’

Shocking footage shows how TWO male reporters from Daily Record ‘visited’ a young mum in her own home… The Sentinel newspaper

It never ceases to amaze me how so many people believe local newspapers to be trustworthy and somehow ‘safer’ than the national press.

But in my vast experience nothing is further than the truth and here’s some free advice – as I have said before, for a multitude of reasons never speak with a local reporter. Indeed don’t even answer the door.

Someone who made the mistake of answering her door to a local newspaper journalist was 21-year old Courtney Stewart. The mother of a little boy with Down’s, she innocently posted a photo of her son on Facebook playing peek-a-boo after he climbed into an unplugged washing machine.

Although Courtney never ‘put’ her son in the washing machine and her little boy was laughing in the photo, someone reported the picture to the Police as cruel and within three hours of her posting it, officers were at her door. After ten minutes and having rightly assessed there was no cruelty going on and Courtney’s photo was simply of her little boy playing a game, they left.

But the next day Keith McLeod a reporter at the Daily Record was at her door.  Whether the same individual who tipped off the Police, also tipped off the Daily Record, I don’t know. What I will say is Featureworld has been contacted by a very disturbed individual about this story. I believe it to be the same individual who contacted the Police and the Daily Record and in fact, I was so shocked by the email I received that I advised this person to speak with the Samaritans and their GP.

Presumably the Police thought the same as me because they decided to let the matter drop. But whatever the circumstances, McLeod wasn’t going to.

Let me say here that the fact Courtney had been reported to the Police for posting was a story. So I don’t think there was anything wrong with McLeod going over to investigate it.

However, the way in which McLeod reported the story is in my opinion reprehensible. Because rather than report it in a balanced way – surely the only way? – McLeod had decided that Courtney was GUILTY.

Firstly, in a bizarre move to ‘protect’ her son, he claimed Courtney Stewart took the photo of the ‘boy who was in her care at the time’.

Then, clearly having not checked out any facts he wrote: “Laundry lunacy as toddler with Down’s syndrome is put in washing machine for a ‘laugh.”

‘Courney Stewart has been branded a ‘scumbag’ he stormed, adding she was ‘in no mood to apologise’ when he visited her at her home (would you open your door to a strange man such as McLeod banging on it and talk to him??)

Subsequently a soundless video of Courtney jumping on a bouncy castle emerged (from the same ‘friend’) which McLeod deemed ‘shocking’.

From then on McLeod’s articles used the sort of language you would only use on someone who has been convicted of a serious crime, such as murder, about how he ‘outed’ Courtney and how the pictures are ‘sickening’ and the police were conducting a ‘probe’.

Courtney wasn’t jumping up and down with her son on a bouncy castle – she was, according to McLeod, ‘throwing and dragging the boy’.

And the hounding didn’t stop there, With public opinion nicely whipped up about the young mum, the heartless reporter was on a roll…

McLeod (I presume it was him – he decided to blur his own face although Courtney’s was shown) and another man with a video recorder from the Daily Record then visited her to tape what she had to say about the bouncy castle footage (which to sensationalise further they put a warning on for viewers) demanding she ‘apologise.’  The shocking footage of these burly male reporters standing at the door to this young mum’s flat is here.  Courtney was polite in the circumstances and did open the door. I do not know of any woman who would open the door in these circumstances to MEN at their front door and I am extremely surprised McLeod and his pal were not spoken to by the police for threatening behaviour.

There is a danger that hounding someone like this could lead to them doing something terrible. Indeed by the time Courtney contacted sister site Featureworld she was desperate to set the record straight. I placed her story in the Daily Mail – where it made a page – and she then went on ITV This Morning.

How the story appeared in the Daily Mail is how McLeod could have reported it – he could have had a great story just telling the truth and not twisting the facts or taking a side …

But clearly that didn’t occur to this hapless and deeply unpleasant local newspaper reporter. I feel incredibly sad for anyone who can find it in their conscience to conduct such a nasty campaign.

Needless to say it is a long time  – thankfully – since I witnessed this sort of journalism (I did see it circa the 1980s which is where the Daily Record belongs.)

If this was the sort of thing I was ever expected to do nowadays as a journalist going about my usual day I would have chucked this job in years ago.

Fortunately this sort of shocking behaviour is rare and believe me, as I show week in and week out, it is possible to gain amazing stories in the national press without ever stooping to this sort of low.

Have you had a problem with a local newspaper? If you have been approached by the Daily Record over a story and you believe the paper has treated you unfairly then contact me.



Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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