Sun chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker returns to work six weeks after conviction for 'handling' MP's stolen phone

Sun chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker is returning to work, some six weeks after being convicted of handling stolen goods.

Parker was cleared at the Old Bailey in December of aiding and abetting misconduct in public office by paying a police officer for stories.

But he was convicted of handling Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh’s stolen mobile phone and sentenced to a three-month suspended prison sentence.

Parker, 53, was convicted along with college student Michael Ankers, who tried to sell the contents of the BlackBerry to The Sun and was found guilty of theft.

Parker had been told there was evidence of criminality on the phone, but after examining the phone finding there was none he advised his source to hand it back.

Parker was first arrested on 11 February 2012 and has been suspended from work since he was charged in June 2013.

Sun editor David Dinsmore said in a message to staff: “I’m pleased to report that Nick Parker, our Chief Foreign Correspondent, will be returning to work on The Sun.
 
“We have given a commitment to every individual involved in the legal process that we would review their cases individually and that no decisions or actions would be taken without discussing it with them.
 
“Following the conclusion of his trial in December, we have been talking to Nick about the issues surrounding his case and the events of 2010. The discussions have led us to the belief that punitive action against Nick would be disproportionate.
 
“Lessons have been learned from this experience by all of us in the newsroom. We would handle the story very differently today. We have improved processes in place to help support our decision-making and I want to thank each of you for embracing the enhancements in governance, which reflect the growth in business standards across our organisation. This has without doubt helped us to ensure that our great journalism is produced using the highest standards.

"I know you will join me in welcoming Nick back. I am hugely grateful to him and to all of you for your support and continued commitment."

Parker said in a statement also circulated to staff:  “After three traumatic years I am thrilled to be back at The Sun and will seize this chance to get back to work and get on with my life.  I will always be in debt to my family and friends for their fantastic support. I could not have come through this without them.  Many friends and colleagues are still involved in the legal process and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

Nick Parker profile, by PA's Emily Pennink:

In a distinguished career spanning 34 years, the Sun's Nick Parker covered stories in some of the world's most dangerous war zones.

But having survived the hazards of Afghanistan and other hotspots where reporters had been killed, he came unstuck over a potential story closer to home.

Parker, who is originally from Dudley, joined his local newspaper in 1980 before being recruited by the Sun in 1988 for its Glasgow office.

While there he covered news events including the Piper Alpha oil rig explosion and the Lockerbie bombing.

Having moved to the London offices, Parker was regularly sent abroad to work on stories including the first Gulf War, the Bali bombings, the 9/11 terror attacks, the Beslan school massacre in Russia and the search for Osama bin Laden.

The chief foreign correspondent said he only covered domestic stories when he was not needed to cover major events abroad.

The jury was told how, despite his 2012 arrest, Parker had helped law agencies in the South Africa honeymoon murder case of Shrien Dewani who was yesterday cleared by a court.

He travelled to South Africa to give evidence for the prosecution about what he had discovered during interviews with Dewani and others connected to the case.

The court heard that as a result of his investigation, he had discovered that Dewani had been in a secret bisexual relationship, a fact he said was "very relevant" to the case.

In all, Parker, 53, covered stories in around 40 per cent of the world's countries, the jury was told. But despite his wealth of experience he was always acting on the instructions of the newsdesk editors who "made every editorial decision", he said.

He told jurors that in his 26 years at The Sun he had never knowingly reported anything that he knew to be false and he would always check out the "accuracy and truthfulness" of what he was told, never taking information on face value.

He said he was always driven by the public interest and the need to protect his sources "at all costs".

However, he said he was never given any help or advice on the law relating to public officials and he never thought when he was dealing with them that he was doing anything wrong.

The Press Complaints Commission code was "basically our bible", he said.

Parker, who lives in Twickenham, south-west London, said he found his 2012 arrest at the home he shared with his wife and two children "very, very distressing".

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