Sun Whitehall editor told police of being 'bullied and harassed' by colleague, court hears

Sun Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley told police how her work was "micro-managed" by a colleague, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

Hartley, who is in court accused of paying £17,475 over more than three years to a press officer at HMRC for a series of stories, also told investigators "it was found that I had been bullied and harassed" by the journalist – who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Philip McGhee, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey yesterday that Hartley made no comment when she was arrested, but she did provide a "record of advice" and later a written statement to investigators.

In the statement, Hartley said: "Despite my job title, I had no editorial duties."

She also said she had appealed an overly critical appraisal written by her "bullying" colleague. The appraisal was "upgraded" upon the success of her appeal, the court heard.

Hartley, 40, told police she met press officer Jonathan Hall when she was a general news reporter, and he had offered a story about the Rolling Stones.

Hall would normally "initiate contact" with Hartley, telling her about stories about wasteful government spending in HMRC, she said.

She also blamed the bullying Sun journalist for instructing her to "obscure his [Hall's] identity as a source on the computerised accounting system" and change the name to his girlfriend, Marta Bukarewicz.

"I reject totally that I changed the details because I appreciated what I was doing was wrong and I wanted to cover my tracks," the statement said.

Hall, 43, arranged with the journalist to transfer the sums to his personal account, before switching to his girlfriends's bank in an attempt to hide his tracks, it is claimed.

Bukarewicz, 45, is in the dock after allegedly agreeing to receive the crooked payments. Both Hartley and Bukarewicz deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Hall has accepted he supplied stories for which he was paid.

The court also heard yesterday how a police press release allowed reporters to work out the identity of Hartley as she was being questioned over allegations of making the corrupt payments..

Lawyers for Hartley had requested that her name be kept secret.

But her name was already being reported by rival newspapers as she was interviewed by Operation Elveden officers at Bromley police station, the Old Bailey was told.

Detective Sergeant Nick Bland, the officer who arrested Hartley, agreed the reporter had been happy to hand over her passwords for her mobile phone and other devices.

Defence barrister Adina Ezekiel told jurors that Hartley's solicitor had requested her client's name not be made public, since she had not been charged.

But "by 14:20, there were reports in the press identifying Miss Hartley" after she had attended the police station by appointment on the morning of 25 May 2012, the barrister said.

DS Bland said: "I understand that."

"At 14:20, that was in fact when Miss Hartley was in the middle of being interviewed by police?" Ezekiel asked.

"I understand that," the officer said.

McGhee asked: "Is it right that there was never any intention to release Miss Hartley's name, her date of birth, and job and the newspaper she worked for – in shorthand, her identity?"

"No," the officer replied.

But a press release put out by the Metropolitan Police detailing the arrest of the then 37-year-old, as part of Operation Elveden, left other newspaper reporters in little doubt as to Hartley's identity, the court heard.

McGhee also read jurors a list of facts agreed between prosecution and defence.

"Jonathan Hall held a public office by virtue of his employment at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs," McGhee said.

The barrister said Hall had previously worked at the Department of Work and Pensions, as well as the Big Lottery Fund.

"Jonathan Hall has accepted that he supplied stories to Clodagh Hartley for which he was paid," McGhee continued.

The lawyer then went through records of phone contact and payment details.

McGhee said neither Hartley nor Bukarewicz had any previous convictions or cautions, and had never been arrested or interviewed under caution before.

Both Hartley and Bukarewicz deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Bukarewicz, of Grafton Road, Kentish Town, north London, and Hartley, of Brockley, south-east London, deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

The prosecution case has closed, with Bukarewicz expected to give evidence this morning.

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