Sun journalist Jamie Pyatt arrives at court in LondonA Sun reporter admitted yesterday that a string of stories about ongoing police investigations, celebrities and high-profile murderers and rapists published in Britain’s best-selling paper had been supplied by public officials for money.

However, Jamie Pyatt maintained that none of the information in the stories – including about the disappearance of schoolgirl Milly Dowler, the murder of Rachel Nickell and alleged wrongdoing by showbusiness figures Chris Tarrant and Mick Hucknall – was confidential.  Information for 13 stories about investigations by Surrey Police were passed to Mr Pyatt by a serving police constable.  Eight other stories came from Robert Neave, a healthcare assistant employed at Broadmoor high security hospital.

On trial for making illegal payments to public officials, Mr Pyatt, The Sun‘s veteran district reporter, told Kingston Crown Court:

“I’ve looked back [at the stories] and thought: ‘Have I done anything wrong?’ And I’m certain I’ve done nothing wrong in the way I was instructed to do my job by my company.  “I’ve looked at these stories very many times: they are completely accurate. Nobody has ever made any mistake about these stories. I firmly believe they were in the public interest.”

He said that initially he was concerned about the idea of paying a serving police officer but his mind was set at rest after speaking to The Sun‘s legal department. After speaking to one of the paper’s lawyers, Mr Pyatt said, he believed that paying a policeman would not amount to corruption because the PC had approached The Sun first. Mr Pyatt said: “Our lawyers were very experienced and they would be able to tell from the way the story was put together who we’re relying on as a source of the information.”

Before he entered the witness box, Jamas Hodilava, junior counsel for Mr Pyatt, read out a list of stories published by the Sun for which his client accepted payments had been made.

The stories for which The Sun paid a Surrey police PC were:

Mick Seized by 16 Rape Cops
Did Beast Kill Milly
Wannabe Serial Killer
The Sex Predators Exposed: Sordid Life of Shamed Rape Case Op
Abi: Suspect in Court
Milly Cops Quiz White Van Man
Husband Held Over Dead Wife Inferno
Tarrant Quiz on Assault
My Night with Jordan
Huge Bang at 4am as Dane Stays With Jordan
Hero Cop Held
Blues Ace Robbed
Ann Summers Boss Poisoned by Nanny

Mr Pyatt told the court:“I honestly cannot see anything there that is confidential.”  He went on: “The sort of material you’re seeing here is the sort of stuff going back in the day is the kind of material you would be given by officers on the scene or investigating officers.”  He added:

“These are the major stories which happened on the Surrey patch over that time. We’re dealing with murders, missing children, serial killers, rape, celebrities involved in crime… they are important news stories. I believe the public have a right to read these stories. They have a right to be informed and to read about them.

The stories for which The Sun paid Broadmoor’s Robert Neave were:

I’ll Blind Your One Good Eye
Sonia in 4 Hour Boadmoor Visit
Ripper: Let Me Out I’m Better
I Killed Rachel Nickell
Beast of Friends
Broadmoor Nurse in Romps with Patient
Cannibal Pops Out for an Op
Ripper Terror as Knife Goes Missing

Mr Pyatt said:

“Broadmoor, along with two other hospitals house the most dangerous people in our society; Broadmoor more so. Over the years it’s been home to Ron and Reggie Kray, Myra Hindley, Yorkshire Ripper, Cannibal Killer, Soho Bomber, Stockwell Strangler. They are people in this country who are fascinated by and are appalled by and… having been put into Broadmoor, I believe they have a right to know what’s happening to them while they are in Broadmoor.

Mr Pyatt and five senior past and present Sun journalists deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office. The case continues.

This post originallly appeared on the Hacked Off Blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks