The Paparazzi Kid proves he’s not immune to Richey Death Row mania either

Electric ChairAccording to former Scotsman picture editor Steve Walker, I have an unhealthy obsession with the story of Kenny Richey and his escape from Death Row.

Steve, who later went on to run a successful paparazzi picture agency, berated me about my Richey fixation when I bumped into him on the school run this morning, having read a couple of my previous posts on the issue.

Then, as if to prove the case has an inescapable pull on journalists from Edinburgh of a certain vintage, he came over all misty eyed to share with me his own memories and experiences of covering the Richey case in the early 1990s.

Young Swalks had just finished a spell at Radio Froth when he headed South shortly after meeting the woman who was to become his wife and mother to his two boys. At that point Gill was a nurse in Brighton, so it made perfect sense for Swalks to up sticks and try his luck in London.

Promptly he found himself working at the Mail on Sunday. Despite the rather unusual accent he’d adopted during his radio career, bosses at the MoS somehow still managed to work out he was Scottish. So he was promptly dispatched to the “Jock Box”, a wee executive office populated by two Scottish journalistic legends, Ian Walker (no relation) and Alan Cochrane, now the Daily Telegraph’s political man in Scotland.

Walker, who died tragically in a mountain accident, was the man charged with covering the Richey case and set about it with gusto. This week Swalks has been Googling furiously in an effort to find the piece written by Ian back in 1992, as he assures me it begins with the chessy line: This is a story which has to be told…

The main point Swalks was making is that Ian Walker, a man who’d covered global events including Black September, was convinced of Richey’s innocence.

I’ve already said I suspect he probably was involved in starting the fire which killed a two-year-old girl. But I’m no fan of the US death penalty (read here for a scandal about the US capital of state-sanctioned murder – it’s a postcode lottery) and as far as I’m concerned Richey has served his time and paid his debt to society.

Which raises two points:

Firstly, I’d welcome comments from readers about whether they think Richey was innocent or guilty. It’s easy enough to leave a reply and it would be an interesting straw poll.

And I wonder if some kind soul at the the MoS might search the paper’s cutting system for that piece written by Ian Walker all those years ago – and forward me a copy so I can put Swalks out of his Google Search-hell misery?


7 thoughts on “The Paparazzi Kid proves he’s not immune to Richey Death Row mania either

  1. The teachings of Bill Allsopp have been eroded by time it seems; the Christian name of the late, great journalist you speak of was spelled Iain.

    Continuing on the apparently misty-eyed theme, I do recall Alan Cochrane asking me in the ‘Jock Box’ if my mother went to discos in Dundee in 1969. I shot him a puzzled look.

    “Cos if she did,” he pointed at Walker, “then HE’S almost certainly yer faither.”

  2. Young Walker has always been a bit of a fantasist. The idea that he would have been allowed to enter, never mind occupy, the Jocks Box at The Mail On Sunday is risible. Walker was so junior and so much below the salt – he wasn’t even on a contract, never mind staff – as to be barely worthy of consideration by such giants of the Fourth Estate as Iain Walker and myself!

    However, he’s right in one sense; if his mother did go to the Palais or JM Ballrooms in Dundee ( there were no discos)in the Sixties then, then it’s entirely possible that the late great Walker senior was his faither.

    pip pip


  3. Just as I thought Mr Cochrane (sir). Steve getting ahead of himself again.

    I hope I managed to spell your name correctly. And my apologies to the late, great, Iain Walker, for the misspelling of his name.

  4. A minion such as I was indeed given special dispensation to occupy the Jocks Box for the tail end of the ’92 General Election campaign (it was the first time the MoS produced a Scottish edition or supplement or somesuch I seem to recall). Thanks to Cochers for clarifying Scott’s over-promotion of my (as yet unchanged) status!

  5. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there’s nothing for 1992 by Iain about Keeny Richey in the Mail or MoS. Most of the KR stories – all 8 of them – are by William Lowther.

  6. Thanks for looking, Craig. Entirely possible that Walker, as executive editor, “ran” the story with Bill Lowther getting the byline. Bill was Washington Corr. The story I recall ran on what I think was then called an “Analysis” spread (pages 8 and 9 ..?)

  7. Tchoh! The explation seems clear enought to me. That Bill Lowther, one of the best-know names on Fleet Street, must have been snaffling bylines!
    Thanks for checking that out Craig. Just one thing – did any of those articles have the opening line, THIS is a story which must be told …?

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