An Evening Standard reporter faces charges of forgery and dishonesty at Harrow Crown Court this week in a case which has implications for all undercover journalism.
Wayne Veysey tried to get a job at Heathrow as a cleaner last year to test airport security for his newspaper. His father, David, wrote him a reference.
Security checks by airport staff rumbled Veysey’s cover and he and his father were arrested and charged before he could get the job.
Airport security checks by newspapers have become a staple of investigative reporting. Their stories have led to tightened security at airports and on aeroplanes. But when News of the World reporter Rob Kellaway was arrested after smuggling a replica machine gun into Gatwick Airport in March, it was noticeable that the attitude of the police and the British Airport Authority was hardening towards reporters.
Eddie Young, group legal adviser for Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Standard, said: “Wayne is defending this very robustly. As far as we were concerned he was carrying out a legitimate operation and if the case goes against him, it will have very serious ramifications for press freedom and for the public interest.”
Wayne, 26, who has been at the Evening Standard for 15 months, and David Veysey are pleading not guilty.
There are two charges against each of them of dishonestly attempting to obtain from Indigo services, a Heathrow airport cleaning company, a pecuniary advantage by deception, by giving and using a false reference, and attempting dishonestly to obtain from Indigo Services an airport idenitity card.
Wayne Veysey is charged separately under the Forgery Act with using an employer’s reference which he knew to be false with the intention of inducing Indigo services at Heathrow to accept it was genuine.
Veysey first applied for the job last May. He was arrested in September.