POLICE Prison 1Sun reporter John Troup did not know he was paying a prison officer for an exclusive story about a prisoner’s death at a Category A jail, a court heard yesterday.

Giving evidence at The Sun Six  trial, Mr Troup agreed with the Crown’s counsel that he had entered into an agreement to pay a tipster for information about the suicide of a hitman at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire.

But Mr Troup, 49, maintained at Kingston Crown Court that he had no way of knowing whether the source – who he paid £300 in cash – was a prison officer.

He strongly denied “tailoring” his defence to fit the facts as they became known in his case.

The court has heard that as The Sun’s East Anglia reporter in 2007, Mr Troup emailed the paper’s managing editor, Graham Dudman, justifying a request for £300 cash for the source of the exclusive on David Croke, who hanged himself in solitary confinement.

Mr Troup wrote: “The tipster is a Prison Officer at Whitemoor and has requested we pay him in cash. For obvious reasons he doesn’t want any record of his name anywhere…”

Peter Wright QC, for the Crown, asked why it was “obvious” that the prison officer did not want any record of his name.

Mr Troup told the court that he could not remember the story or why he had used the phrases that he did in the email, which he had written while he was on holiday.

“I can’t remember why I phrased an email I wrote seven years ago in that particular way,” Mr Troup told the court.

He agreed with the prosecutor: “I had obviously entered into an agreement to pay the source for a story on publication.

Mr Wright told him: “This email is the truth.”

“Yes,” replied the reporter, adding “although it would have been more accurate if I’d written that on holiday and said: ‘The tipster claims he is a prison officer.’ I don’t know to this day whether he was a prison officer or not.

Mr Troup went on: “To my mind, it didn’t matter what he did for a living: it was the information…

The prosecutor said: “Isn’t that the problem – to your mind, it didn’t matter what he did [for a living]?”

Not in this case, Mr Troup explained, because the source “was passing on information about a death in a Category A prison.”

Croke’s death was not confidential, he said, since everyone at the prison would have quickly learnt about it and prisoners could make phone calls to the outside – meaning that everyone would know “within hours”.

He agreed with Mr Wright that he had not mentioned his failure to recall much about the story or the email (Mr Troup told the court yesterday that he did not now think he had written the story) in his defence case statement filed in November 2013.

Mr Wright pressed the reporter: “It doesn’t appear to assert you’ve got no recollection of these events: why’s that?

I don’t know,” he replied.

Challenged whether he had “tailored” his defence to fit the facts as he knew them, Mr Troup said: “I haven’t tailored anything.”

He and his five co-defendants, including Mr Dudman, deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public officer. The case continues.

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