A national newspaper reporter dismissed claims his newspaper used a surveillance team to track down and interview a suspect during the Steve Wright murder inquiry in Ipswich in 2006.

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Allegations were made at the Leveson Inquiry on Monday that the Sunday Mirror tracked down Tom Stephens, who was later cleared of any involvement in the murders, and interviewed him in an Ipswich hotel.

Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry yesterday, Justin Penrose, a reporter for the paper, and Trinity Mirror QC, Desmond Browne, denied the claims.

Mr Penrose said: “Without being flippant I almost laughed out loud when I heard that comment.”

He said Mr Stephens was interviewed in a car park near his home, that he was traced through the electoral role and agreed to an interview.

The article appeared in the Sunday Mirror on December 17, 2006, written by Sunday Mirror reporter, Michael Duffy.

Steve Wright was handed a whole-life sentence in February 2008 after being convicted of killing five women.

On Monday, Daily Express crime correspondent John Twomey, who is chairman of the Crime Reporters’ Association, said it was “shocking” that the News of the World allegedly followed a police surveillance team.

“It’s just quite unbelievable, really, that a newspaper should go to those lengths,” he told the inquiry. “I think it would have taken most reporters – certainly most crime reporters – by surprise.”

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