“Leaking for money is disgraceful, unacceptable, and breaches everything police officers stand for in their jobs,” a former Surrey Assistant Chief Constable told an Old Bailey Court today in the trial of senior Sun journalist Nick Parker and two others.
Parker faces three charges of “aiding and abetting” misconduct in public office, two of which were Sun exclusives based on information provided by a Surrey policeman, PC Alan Tierney, who pleaded guilty to two charges of misconduct in public office last year.
Tierney provided details of two incidents in the Surrey Constabulary in 2009 which provided The Sunnewspaper with front page splashes.
In March, the mother and mother-in-law of then football captain John Terry were arrested in Weybridge for alleged shoplifting from Marks and Spenser and Tesco supermarkets. Both were cautioned. The crown alleges Tierney, as the ‘attending officer’, provided details of their arrest to Parker at The Sun.
Later that year, Ronnie Wood was arrested and kept in the cells overnight after a violent altercation with his then girlfriend Ekaterina Ivanova. Tierney took a witness statement from residents who saw the assault, and passed details onto Parker at The Sun.
Jeremy Kirkby, a retired senior Surrey police officer, said that information gained interviewing suspects in custody or in witness statements, was “sensitive and confidential” and that leaks corroded confidence.
“If they think we can’t be trusted to deal with that information in a confidential and sensitive and proper fashion,” Kirkby told the jury “then the fundamental trust of public and confidence in the police is undermined.”
Cross-examined by Trevor Burke QC, the barrister acting for Nick Parker noted a “common theme.” “The two incidents were nine months apart,” Burke observed. “Those accused are famous and rich. Both offences are committed in Surrey. And both are cautioned.”
Quizzed on the public interest of releasing more information on the arrests and cautions Kirkby replied: “Just because someone may think there’s an interest to the public, doesn’t mean there is a public interest.”
In the case of Susan Terry and Susan Poole, the Surrey Press office declined to confirm their identities to the press at the time or update the amount of clothing and groceries they had attempted to shoplift. The original press briefing had mentioned a sum of £800. It was almost double that amount.
Kirkby told the court the decision to issue a caution would have been determined by a number of factors including previous offences and admission of guilt. When Burke explained that the two witnesses to the Ronnie Wood assault had been offered £20,000 by the News of the World for their story in 2009, and eventually sold it to The Daily Mail, Kirby replied: “That doesn’t take away the responsibility of the police.”
All three defendants deny all the charges and the trial is expected to continue for three weeks.
This post originally appeared on the Hacked Off Blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks
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