The Kingston Defence: Sun journalists shopped by News Corp to avoid corporate charges

There will be much more to say about this in due course, as news trickles out from the rampantly under-reported Kingston Crown Court trial of the ‘Sun Six’: but it should be noted that evidence about hundreds of missing signed cash payments from former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, as well as details of the various Memoranda of Understanding between the Met and the Management and Services Committee set up by News Corp in 2011 is being adduced by the defence teams at Kingston

There Chris Pharo, Sun’s former head of news,  former managing editor Graham Dudman, deputy news editor Ben O’Driscoll, picture editor John Edwards, and reporters Jamie Pyatt and John Troup are on trial. 

The line of their lawyers, reported also in the Guardian and Independent, is clear: Sun  journalists were “shopped’ to the police by the company, in order to avoid the threat of corporate charges. (See more from Court News below)

Meanwhile some breaking news from Jamie Pyatt’s police interview, read out in court today

The case continues and all six defendants deny all the charges

A corporate charge against News International over making payments to public officials could have destroyed the company, a court heard yesterday.The parent company of the Sun and the News of the World chief exec Rupert Murdoch pictured above with Sun staff had worked fully with police but the co-operation allegedly lessened as more reporters were arrested and the threat of a corporate charge remained.

Detectives on Operation Elveden were accused of attacking the freedom of the press as they carried on the investigation, Kingston Crown Court heard.

A top lawyer at parent company News Corporation described the prospect of a corporate charge as “devastating” and “apocalyptic”.

News Corporation set up a Managing Standards Committee MSC in 2011 to investigate its business practices following the phone-hacking scandal.

Det Supt Mark Kandiah was involved in Operation Weeting that year, which brought a criminal case against former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.

He was appointed senior investigating officer on Operation Elveden and said the MSC had been helping police by providing them with information.

“At that stage it [Operation Elveden] was just confined to police officers,” Dt Supt Kandiah told the court.”Later the MSC began adducing emails that tended to show that the royal correspondent at the News of the World might have been paying royal officers.

“When I took over [Operation Elveden] I became aware that the MSC was also conducting a review of other newspapers, such as The Sun.”I knew that they were conducting their own investigation into this paper.”A small amount of material was provided to Operation Elveden from the MSC about one of the defendants, Jamie Pyatt.”

via News Corp feared corporate charge over payments could ‘kill company’ and risk 46,000 jobs | Press Gazette.

Highlights from Jamie Pyatt’s police interview on November 4 2011

Pyatt begins his interview by asserting “For a start off I have not paid police officers for any information”: he is then interviewed at length about various cash payments and procedures around reporting crime, particularly in the Thames Valley. One Sun memo from 26/04/02 for a Thomas payment of £500 relates to “pay contributor/police officer for assist on Millie body in river article”

PYATT         Again I didn’t write this I have never seen this document I just don’t see it and whether that is a catch or  phrase contributor/police officer because it’s a police orientated story I don’t know but I can tell you that was paid to the …… if you go back to the story as it says on page 2 of the Sun we offer stories for cash, now we had a guy ring in who saw a police operation in progress, there were frogmen in the water, the area was all taped off, he had spoken to an officer there and asked what’s it all about and the guy said to him well it’s when they were all looking for Millie DOWLER, so we thought we might have found Millie we found a body of a teen girl he then calls the news desk and says that you pay cash for stories, yes we do pay cash for stories what have you got, I think I know where Millie DOWLER is there is a big police operation on at the moment, where is it, well am I going to get paid, yes you will we will send someone down to come and talk to you, I go down to talk to him find the scene and it all turns out we have got .… if you turn over the page a little bit …. it made a 1-4-5 for us anyway [SNIP]

OFFICER       And that sort of information is worth £500 is it

PYATT           It’s worth a lot more actually

OFFICER        A bargain for you then

PYATT                  Yes it was a bargain and we agreed more, if he is giving us a 1-4-5, cash we would have probably if he had asked for it we would have paid him £1,500 for that

OFFICER                 I still don’t understand the expression 1-4-5

PYATT                  Page 1 and the 4-5 is the spread you have page 1 …

Pyatt also talks about being promoted – temporarily – to a news editor at the Sun, even though he preferred being a district reporter

PYATT:              Unfortunately I didn’t want to do the job I was very very happy doing what I did working on my own but for whatever reason Kelvin MCKENZIE who was editor at the time wanted me to be news editor and when Kelvin MCKENZIE wants you to do something you tend to do it otherwise you are history so I was news editor for a year and half to two years and basically when Kelvin MACKENZIE moved on to Sky Stuart HIGGINS took over and fortunately he knew I wasn’t really happy doing it I wanted to get back out on the road so he put me back out on the road and appointed a news editor so I am back to doing what I was happiest doing

After an account of the round the hours workings under McKenzie, and new strictures on cash payments, Pyatt goes on to describe his disappointment with the Sun management.

PYATT            I would like to say that I spent nearly 25 years with them I have been in a situation in Ibiza, I have been driven out in the middle of a desert by a police officer who put a gun to my head to try and find out a photographer, I have been chased down the Khyber pass by rebels, I have been all across Africa in really difficult situations, I have done so much for the Sun and I do feel a little bit disappointed that I have been accused of this and that they have …… the Sun newspaper sends me out to do things they tell me where to go what to do and for them to then be turning around and saying why not investigate one of our guys he might have done something wrong, I just find I feel basically very let down by them for deciding to do that when at the end of the day I am the person that does what they’re told

SNIP

PYATT OK, there is an overall feeling that News International is basically … I don’t know what the word is …… but we just feel that we are being investigated and we haven’t done anything wrong I mean there is quite rightly an investigation into News of the World, allegations have been made of all the phone hacking and a number of people have been arrested but there has been no such allegations made at the Sun, the Times or the Sunday Times yet despite the fact that the police aren’t investigating those newspapers we are all being investigated by our own company, they have brought in a firm of solicitors to go through all our emails and all our stories trying to find stuff on us to hand over to the police and I think most of the guys’ views is hang on a minute the police aren’t investigating we haven’t done anything wrong, if we have done something wrong then by all means come and investigate us but it’s like they are going through everything we have got trying to find things and tossing them out, I think there is a view …. we have done nothing wrong yet we are being investigated by ourselves for stuff that we have been told to do, I mean this is what we do for a living I don’t suddenly decide to go off and do this or do that I am being sent there and I am being told to pay this money it’s not me making this up it’s not coming out of my bank account, the person rings the news desk want’s x for it I am told to go out get the story and do it then they send the money out to me because I am the local person and I pay it.

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4 thoughts on “The Kingston Defence: Sun journalists shopped by News Corp to avoid corporate charges

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