The president of the Crime Reporters’ Association and former Daily Mirror crime correspondent Jeff Edwards has revealed how he was encouraged to bribe police officers for stories while working at the News of the World.
Edwards joined the tabloid in 1981 and was soon made crime correspondent, but toward the end of 1983 his news editor told him he was unhappy with his work because he was not producing enough stories.
This came shortly after the appointment of the NoW’s new editor Nicholas Lloyd, said Edwards, who put pressure on the news editor to ‘get results”.
In his written statement Edwards said: ‘I explained to him the job was difficult and his response was something to the effect that ‘we have plenty of money available, let your contacts in the police know that we will reward them for good information’.
‘I do not remember what I said in return but I remember being worried about both my job and what my boss was suggesting as I had never paid police officers before, and was worried about the legal and ethical issues involved.”
He continued: ‘No more was said for about three or four weeks, but I did not offer bribes or rewards to any police contacts and clearly my performance was still not good enough because the news editor confronted me again.
‘He was angry and again said words to the effect that I should be paying police officers to induce them to pass on information.
‘I do remember that I became upset and said to him that I disapproved strongly of such methods and said something on the lines that I thought we were about exposing hypocrisy and corruption and yet here we were with him instructing me to bribe police officers.”
Edwards believes this was the ‘nail in his coffin”.
The news editor said words to the effect of ‘if you will not do my bidding I will find someone who will”, and the following week he was removed from the role of crime correspondent and returned to the main newsroom as a general reporter.
‘Dishonest and devious behaviour’
While Edwards said he worked with many ‘excellent and enterprising journalists’at the NoW, he added: ‘I felt there was a section of the staff who displayed dishonest and devious behaviour sometimes in their work.
‘I do remember saying to a colleague (I can’t recall who) words to the effect that working at the News of the World had a tendency to corrupt some people and that it was tacitly supported by certain executives who were only interested in results.”
Edwards later joined the Daily Mirror as chief crime correspondent in 1992. The culture at the paper was ‘far removed’from the NoW, he said.
‘I can state that throughout my time at the Daily Mirror I was not encouraged in any way to offer rewards or bribes to police and have never indulged in that practice, which I think is wrong,’he added.
‘I can also state that I never heard of any instance of another journalist at the Daily Mirror being involved in any business where money or other rewards were offered or given to police officers.”
Edwards claimed it was well known in the newspaper business that some former police officers ‘have been very active as informants for certain companies, supplying them with tip offs about stories which have been passed to them by former colleagues still serving in the police”.
But he believes this has ‘probably all but died out now”.
‘The reason for this is that the main proponents have reached retirement, or near retirement, age and many of their sources have retired or left the police service,’he said.
‘In other words, their sources of information have slowly died off.”