GOOD news from the Echo’s sister paper, the Darlington & Stockton Times, of 150 years ago: the notorious hotel swindler had been apprehended in Bishop Auckland after receiving board and lodgings under false pretences at the Fleece Hotel.

The swindler – named only Harris – would arrive at the hotel with fake letters of introduction from well known local people saying that he was a travelling brewmaster giving instructions to brewers in the art of brewing.

Having been given the best room, he would then feign to fall in, and the hotelier – a Mrs Jackson at the Fleece – would give him the best food and the most tender care until he fled, leaving the bill unpaid.

When he appeared at Bishop Auckland magistrates, hoteliers from Spennymoor and Tow Law said he had perpetrated similar swindles on them and now, said the paper, police in Durham and Middlesbrough wanted to question him about identical outrages.