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Stranger Than Fiction?

Stranger than fiction

Newspapers are full of nonsense. If they can’t get the information they want, they tend to invent it rather than let the absence of facts get in the way of a good story, as Russell Baldwin, a businessman from Knotty Green in Buckinghamshire, discovered to his annoyance in 2008.

A rumour started that the private car registration CR 7had been purchased by Manchester United football star Cristiano Ronaldo and, before long, the story was making headlines in the papers and on news websites. Although the story was widely circulated, it was somewhat premature. Mr Ronaldo had not bought CR 7.

Russell Baldwin, on the other hand, did subsequently purchase CR 7. The media eventually became aware of the fact, and Mr Baldwin was asked questions about his new registration number.

The question he declined to answer was that of exactly how much he had paid for CR 7. True to form, the press didn’t let Mr Baldwin’s reticence stand in the way of news, so they plucked a figure out of the air and promptly reported it as the sum Mr Baldwin had paid. Apart from the apocryphal price tag, the papers reported the details pretty much as related to them by Mr Baldwin.

Mr Baldwin, a property developer, encountered CR 7 when he went to buy two other registration numbers from businessman Charlie Robinson of Ayrshire, Scotland. Mr Baldwin took the opportunity to purchase the “Ronaldo” registration, which he does hope to sell at a decent profit.

Although Ronaldo wrote off his Ferrari in an accident in Manchester, Mr Baldwin, whose sons are Manchester United fans, would still love to sell the number to him. In an amusing twist, although initial news reports stated that Ronaldo would be displaying the number on a Bentley, it is actually on Mr Baldwin’s Ford Escort.

Why invent news when the reality is much more fun?

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