Scoop – Annette-style

Birmingham Press Club to host exclusive-studded journalist Annette Witheridge.

It’s an image that went global – the photograph of Prince Andrew and American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as they walked together in New York’s Central Park.

Now the journalist who secured the photograph that exposed the relationship and which helped sell millions of newspapers and filled screens on prime-time television, will be telling the story behind the headlines when she visits Birmingham Press Club on Tuesday 28th May.

The event will be held on at Hockley Social Club, 60 Hampton Street, Birmingham, B19 3LU, commencing at 6 pm. Hockley Social Club is a 10-15 minute walk from Snow Hill Station and a 3-minute walk from St Paul’s Tram Stop. There are three large car parks nearby – payment via the usual apps. Free street parking is also available outside the venue.

In order to keep such regular events accessible to anyone and everyone, tickets will cost just £10 each. You can pay direct to Birmingham Press Club. Sort code: 20-07-82. Account number: 00463000. The night will be informal and table bookings are not required. Enquiries to [email protected]

Sutton Coldfield-born Annette Witheridge – whose character is now “immortalised” in a new Netflix movie – is one of Britain’s most longest-serving, and successful, freelance journalists, running her own news agency in New York for more than 20 years. She was also a Fleet Street freelance and a staff reporter on the News of the World after leaving the Midlands, where she worked on the Tamworth Herald and the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

The movie Scoop, shown on Netflix from 5th April, centres around the Prince Andrew’s car crash interview on BBC Television with presenter Emily Maitlis.

“It begins with me and a photographer in Central Park,” said Annette. “I am so chuffed – I was convinced I’d end up on the cutting room floor. But apparently we’re at the start before the credits roll.” Recalling the time she and photographer Jae Donnelly sat outside Epstein’s mansion on December 5th 2010, after learning the Prince was in New York on a private visit, she said: “There were men with walkie-talkies with British accents so it didn’t take a genius to figure out Andrew was there.”

Annette went to New York in 1995 and not only survived but thrived in the cutthroat world of freelance journalism. She was only a few blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11, arrived at Ground Zero before the barricades went up and spent months afterward cranking out stories for the British press.

“I was two blocks away when the first tower collapsed,” she said. “I remember an odd rumble, astonishingly quiet, followed by massive black cloud snapping at my heels. For the next 12 months we covered very little else except heartbreak. It was very grim but some of the people I interviewed have become lifelong friends.”

Annette was in Fleet Street by the age of 23 and worked on the staff of the News of the World. Her stories often took her to America, so it was no surprise when, in January 1995, she moved to New York permanently and set up Big Apple News agency with ex-Mirror staffer Allan Hall.

After selling Big Apple News, Annette ghost wrote a book with the mother of rapper Eminem before returning to freelancing.
Over the past two decades she has worked for every national newspaper in the UK, as well as dozens of magazines and TV stations in the US, Australia and beyond. Some of her biggest scoops came during the 1990s.

She was the first to track down disgraced popstar Gary Glitter in Cuba after he was first accused of possessing child porn in 1997. Also that year she covered the trial of British au pair Louise Woodward who was jailed for shaking a baby to death in Boston, USA.

When John F Kennedy Junior’s plane crashed off Martha’s Vineyard in 1999, Witheridge broke the story about how his fairy tale marriage had become a nightmare and he was on the verge of divorce. She sold it around the world, but said she was attacked in the US press for “being British” and daring to shatter the Kennedy fantasy.

As well as the US, Witheridge has covered stories across Canada, South America and the Caribbean. She said: “I once spent 11 days – and stayed on three different islands – in the Bahamas on the trail of an aristocrat who had left his wife and stately pile back in Britain for a vibrant young widow. Having found them four days into the story, photographer Chris Bott and I kept tripping over them. Twice we were at restaurants, when they came in after us. I started to wonder who was following who.”