MoD pharmacy assistant avoids jail over taking £1,000 for Prince Harry tabloid stories

A former member of staff at Sandhurst military college who leaked private details about the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry to a tabloid newspaper has been spared jail.

Tracey Bell, a pharmacist's assistant employed by the Ministry of Defence, pocketed payments of around £1,000 in exchange for information about the royals, the Old Bailey heard.

She secretly supplied a tabloid newspaper reporter with details of the princes between 2005 and 2006.

Military bosses suspected Bell of the leaks after stories based on classified information appeared in the press. There was not enough evidence to charge her but she was moved to a different position, the court heard.

Bell, 35, pleaded guilty to one charge of committing misconduct in a public office.

Sentencing Bell to a nine-month jail term, suspended for two years, Mr Justice Saunders said: "Not only was (selling the information) a breach of her duty as a public official, but also a breach as a medical professional.

"This is not a case where it could ever be said that there was a real case for disclosure (in the public domain)."

The court heard the stories were based on information supplied by Bell to the journalist for publication in the newspaper – details of which cannot be revealed due to legal reasons.

The court was told how Bell, of Cooperative Street in Barnsley, was unwell at the time of the offending and was apparently in an abusive relationship.

Defending, Japinder Singh said his client "showed remorse" and had got her life back on track.

He said she continues to have health problems, but added: "This whole experience has had a significant effect on her. There are no indications of her committing further offences."

Sentencing, the judge said: "I don't regard this as a most serious example of this offending.

"Her life changed considerably since 2005-06. She remarried and had three young children born since the offending."

Bell, who walked in and out of the dock with the use of crutches, was also asked to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and was subject to a £958.95 confiscation order.

She said "thank you" as she was released from the dock.

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