The News of the World has been praised by police after an undercover operation by the paper prompted two baby traffickers to yesterday be found guilty of conspiracy to commit child cruelty and slavery.
Last September undercover reporters for the paper exposed how a 48-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman tried to sell a baby to them for £35,000.
The pair were arrested after the paper passed on its information to Scotland Yard. The story was masterminded by Stephen Moyes, who was last week named showbiz reporter of the year at the British Press Awards.
Detective chief superintendent Gordon Briggs, head of child abuse investigations at Scotland Yard, yesterday said: “This was an appalling case where individuals have attempted to sell a vulnerable child for their own personal gain and with no consideration whatsoever for her safety and future.
“We thank the News of the World for bringing this case to our attention and we are indebted to our partners in Newham Social Services who joined us in a fast moving operation to recover the victim and remove her to safety.”
The pair cannot be named for legal reasons.
The News of the World was tipped off after the man involved confessed to a friend that he wanted to sell the child. That friend then tipped off the paper and a pair of reporters posed as a couple interested in buying the little girl.
The culmination of the deal was captured on video by the paper.
The man told the paper: ‘I can arrange a boy or girl… a Hindu or Indian or Sikh baby. Whatever the buyer wants.”
The NoW reported how the man showed the baby off to its reporters ‘as if he was selling a puppy”.
The ‘handover’of the child was set to happen at a hotel in Essex. Instead the NoW tipped off police and secretly filmed as officers pounced and arrested the pair. Social workers from Newham Council were also on hand to take the child into care.
The pair are due to be sentenced on 27 May.