THIS WEEK IN 2000: Paulsgrove’s streets of fire and shame

Michael and Sara Payne and their eldest son, Lee, 13, reading the book of condolence from readers of The News.
Michael and Sara Payne and their eldest son, Lee, 13, reading the book of condolence from readers of The News.

In the wake of Sarah Payne’s murder trial, the News of the World resumed its campaign to name and shame paedophiles, in order to renew the debate over Sarah’s Law – a proposal giving parents the right to know of paedophiles living in their area. 

Sarah Payne disappeared on July 1 in West Sussex and her body was found two weeks later. An investigation began and Roy Whiting, a convicted sex offender, was found guilty of her murder.

Taking matters into their own hands, The News of the World published the identities of 100 offenders and promised to print thousands more, but the country descended into chaos. 

Riots broke out, particularly in Paulsgrove where hundreds of residents protested in Allaway Avenue. 

The riots escalated throughout the week, causing violence to break out on an unprecedented scale. 

Sarah Payne’s grandfather appealed for calm as The News of the World suspended its campaign. Later that week Sarah’s parents, Michael and Sara, thanked the hundreds of News readers who had written messages in a book of condolence.