Duncan LarcombeA former Sandhurst instructor was paid £5,000 by News International for a picture of the heir to the throne in a green bikini a jury was told yesterday. However, despite the purchase of the bikini picture being authorised by then Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, the newspaper never published the photograph and instead used a mock-up featuring an actor.

John Hardy, 43, is charged, along with his wife Claire, of committing misconduct in a public office by selling confidential information to Sun royal editor Duncan Larcombe. Larcombe and three other journalists are also facing charges including conspiracy.

Prosecutor Mark Bryan-Heron told the court that this was just one of the stories the former Sandhurst instructor sold to The Sun while Prince William and Prince Harry were cadets at the Royal military college.

While some of the payments were for specific stories, such as “King of the Chavs”, about Prince William dressed up “as a working class person”, others were for general information on the two princes such as “training schedule” or “general info” the prosecutor said.

Amongst the alleged payments to Hardy, the court heard, was one of £250 to allow him to go out with a group of other Sandhurst staff to The Honeypot Club. The Sun subsequently ran a story accusing the group of being hypocrites as they had previously disciplined Prince Harry for attending a strip club. It was headlined “Stripocracy”.

All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.