The Independent has refused to pay a NAPA agency for use of a report of a court case it “lifted” from a website claiming ''there is no copyright in news”.

Derek Bellis of Bellis News Agency said he was the only journalist in court in Llandudno for the case of a 50-year-old man who placed barbed wire across a forest cycle path.

But although the agency was paid for use of the story by Wales Online, it was then followed up by the Independent which appeared to take all the details of the case from the report.

The Indy's version included a link to Wales Online in the fourth paragraph of its piece, quoted from evidence heard in court and also used a police quote given to Bellis but which it attributed in its own article to Wales Online. It has since declined to pay an invoice sent by Bellis for the story.

Glyn Bellis who runs the agency with Derek told UK Press Gazette: “This is worse than when a newspaper claimed £3 was reasonable for a court story which had at least been provided by my agency. In this case the Independent has quite blatantly lifted a court story and refused to pay a very modest fee.

“It would be interesting to know how this title, which boasts of high journalistic standards, would have defended any complaint to IPSO.

“This kind of activity should be of concern not just to journalists but to the publisher’s rivals, too, because the Independent is trying to get a free service to attract web traffic and then advertising.

“Unlike the Independent, Wales Online does the honourable thing and pays for stories which we supply.

“I’m looking into my options. Court reporting requires some skill so I don’t believe the Independent can get away with stating ‘there is no copyright in news and we have not acted improperly’.

“In short, this is a question of journalistic ethics.”

In a statement to UKPG, The Independent said:  “We based our report – written in our own words – on material previously published on the Wales Online website, as our piece made clear (with a link back to the Wales Online piece). There is no copyright in news and we have not acted improperly.

The Independent – like The Guardian, Evening Standard and Financial Times – is not signed up to a press regulator.