London: The now-defunct News of the World (NoTW) spiked an exclusive story that exposed famous science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke as a paedophile because the author was a friend of proprietor Rupert Murdoch, according to The Independent.
Clarke (Dec 16, 1917 - March 19, 2008) was famous for his short stories and novels, the most popular among them was the "2001: A Space Odyssey" published in 1968.
According to a new book "Hack", about life inside the newspaper that closed July 7 last year, reporter Graham Johnson said that although the newspaper prided itself on outing paedophiles, editors made an exception for Clarke because he was a friend of Murdoch.
"Hack" is an account of Johnson's days as a reporter at the News of the World and then the Sunday Mirror.
The story about Clarke's alleged abuse of adolescent boys - written by reporter Roger Insall - was never published for fear of upsetting the proprietor, The Independent said.
Johnson, who by that time had been sacked by the NoTW and had joined the Sunday Mirror, was tipped off about the story.
The Sunday Mirror sent Johnson to Colombo, where he extracted a confession from the author that he paid boys for sex.
"I have never had the slightest interest in children - boys or girls. They should be treated in the same way. But once they have reached the age of puberty, then it is OK," Clarke was quoted as saying in the Sunday Mirror.
"If the kids enjoy it and don't mind it doesn't do any harm... there is a hysteria about the whole thing in the West."
Clarke subsequently denied he was a paedophile, saying, "the allegations are wholly denied".
But he never sued the Sunday Mirror. He died aged 90 at his Sri Lanka home in 2008.
Johnson told The Independent: "Roger said that because Arthur C. Clarke was a mate of Rupert Murdoch, the editor wasn't having any of it and despite Roger getting a lot of evidence that Clarke was a paedophile they wouldn't publish it."
Phil Hall, the then editor, said he vaguely remembers the story.
"I do remember that Roger Insall worked on it and I remember it was not published. My only recollection is that the only reason we wouldn't publish it was because of legal reasons," Hall said.
He, however, said Murdoch never asked him to spike stories.
News International, publisher of the NOTW, made no comment.
First Published: Sunday, July 08, 2012, 11:53