Senior Sun reporter Nick Parker, who is on trial at London’s Old Bailey, said told the Court today that paying police was “within the rules of journalism”.
He made the comment while under cross-examination over charges which include paying a police officer for confidential information about an alleged assault by Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. The journalist confirmed that the policeman had supplied the address of two witnesses to the incident but told the jury: “I felt perfectly entitled to talk to a police officer as I was covered by the PCC code.”
Parker also defended his description of newspaper readers in one email as “plebs” saying this was a colloquial term used internally by reporters, adding: “it’s the Sun newspaper not the Church Times.”
He told the court that he felt the payments to the officer were justified as he was getting no information from the Surrey police press office saying: “if the story is in the public interest I have a degree of protection, my job as a journalist is to get the story.”
The reporter is also facing charges in connection with the theft of the mobile phone of Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh. Parker agreed today he had signed a contract offering £10,000 to co-defendant Michael Ankers if it contained any information that would lead to a front page story.
In a tense exchange with prosecution barrister Michael Porroy QC Parker admitted spending six hours transcribing the contents of the MP’s phone but told the court: “Its my job to take all of the information I get from a source and send it to the news-desk, I write it down and let them decide.” Responding to a suggestion by Porroy that he was claiming to be a: “powerless, knowledgeless dummy” the journalist replied: “I’m was just the messenger, you are making me responsible for something, it was not my decision.”
Parker also claimed he had consulted with his companies head of legal affairs Tom Crone throughout the incident telling the jury: “I was following the instruction of most senior lawyer at News International. He made the decisions but is not in court today.” The reporter went on: “It’s run by the lawyers, it’s run by the senior management, it’s nothing to do with me.”
Also on trial are Lee Brockhouse, a prison officer at HMP Swaleside, and Michael Ankers. All three defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.
This post originally appeared on the Hacked Off Blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks
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