Sun six trial: 'Handed over by my own company for doing what I had done loyally for 27 years'

A Sun reporter told a court how he challenged a break-in at a youth club near his home shortly before his arrest under Operation Elveden.

Jamie Pyatt, 51, who is accused of of paying public officials for confidential information at The Sun between 2002 and 2011, described his 2011 arrest as "awkward" and "distressing".

He explained he had jumped over his garden fence and ran down to the youth club with a baseball bat when it was broken in to. He had been asked to make a police statement.

“When the police came round I thought it was as a result of that and was I pleased, but subsequently that was not the case," he told Kingston Crown Court on Friday.

“He said that I was under arrest on the basis of the investigation by NI.”

Asked how he felt upon his arrest, Pyatt said: “I couldn't believe it. I was very shocked.

"I was read my rights and taken indoors. My boys were woken up and it was very distressing.

“I could not believe I had been handed over by my own company for doing what I had done loyally for 27 years.”

Pyatt is accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office by paying PC Simon Quinn and Broadmoor healthcare assistant Robert Neave for stories that were published in The Sun.

He is in the dock with The Sun's former managing editor Graham Dudman, 51, head of news Chris Pharo, 45, deputy news editor Ben O'Driscoll, 38, reporter John Troup, 49, and picture editor John Edwards, 50, who all face similar corruption charges.

Pyatt said he studied a copy of the 2010 Bribery Act before his arrest.

He said: “Having read through it, it constituted a complete, total change as to how NI were able to operate in future.

“It was quite clear payments could no longer be made to public officials, and it went deeper than that.

“Journalism, as far as NI were concerned, was going to be very different in the future.

“It was a big upheaval. I was concerned about practices at The Sun which happened before this letter arrived.”

'I am not the sort of person who could commit a crime'

Speaking of the idea of committing an offence, Pyatt said: “I am not the sort of person who could commit a crime.

“I have never committed a crime – if it was ever going to happen it was going to be in my private life.

“The fact that I could be arrested for something I did at work – I couldn't believe it.

“The practice was if you approached a public official and offered payment in return for information your feet would not touch the ground, that was quite clear.”

But Pyatt then cited the daily advertisement in The Sun offering cash for stories.

“If a public official approached a newspaper with a story which was in the public interest that would absolve us of any corruption.

“I always worked under that premise and if I had thought I was committing a criminal act I would not be able to sleep at night or live with the consequences.”

Pyatt said when he was arrested he thought he was in “serious, serious trouble”.

Asked why he initially lied to police about Quinn, Pyatt said: “I accept I didn't tell the truth about Simon Quinn.

“I felt in a place I had never been before – I had spent six hours in a cell on my own feeling betrayed by the company.

“After all I had done for them I couldn't believe that they were not prepared to protect me or my sources.

“I felt it was my duty to protect my sources as they had approached the company and had been promised confidentiality.

“I felt if I could at least do that I would have done my best as a journalist to do the right thing.”

Pyatt admitted he had paid certain public officials for stories in the past.

He said: “It was my understanding that in the terms of my employment there was an agreement of confidentiality between myself and the company in regard to sources…

“Sources are sacrosanct in journalism and I could not believe that a company such as News International would hand over stories for the purpose of investigation.”

Earlier, he defended several stories brought up during the Sun six trial, which started in mid-October.

'It reflects the great pride the nation has in Prince Harry'

Pyatt told the court that Prince Harry would have pinned Sun scoops about his army service to the wall of his barracks.

He told the court that articles such as “Harry: Send Me Back to War” reflected well on the royal.

“It's a fabulous story, it reflects the great pride the nation has in Prince Harry,” Pyatt said.

Prince Harry trained with the Blues and Royals at military academy Sandhurst and spent 77 days serving in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in 2007-08.

“He is a very young man and it is the kind of story he would read through himself and stick on his wall,” Pyatt continued.

“It takes courage to go out and fight. The monarchy are funded by the taxpayer and this shows they are paying the nation back.

“I don't think anyone would begrudge this story.”

Richard Kovalevsky QC, defending, then spoke of The Sun's coverage of the death of Kirsty Wilson, who was murdered by her partner in a fire in 2008.

Kovalevsky asked whether Pyatt's story “Husband Held Over Wife Death in Inferno” had anything to do with former Surrey policeman Quinn.

“I contacted him, or tried to, in the morning. It looks like I left a message at 11.37am and 1.19pm,” Pyatt said.

“It seems I got through at 5.55pm – my story would have been filed by then.”

Kovalevsky asked: “Did you get anything?”

“I don't believe so, he may have given me the odd fact here or there but substantially the story had already been written,” Pyatt answered.

“The story had already been written but I recall him saying it would be a potential court case for the future worth following.”

Pyatt added that, considering other newspaper coverage of the case, nothing published in The Sun's story had been confidential, and that it was in the public interest.

Broadmoor Halloween party – 'it's a cost to the public taxpayer'

Later he explained his intentions behind The Sun's 2008 coverage of a Halloween party taking place inside Broadmoor for prisoners.

“Having been given a background to what was going on I was concerned this might be a spoof, so I tried to second it,” Pyatt said.

Kovalevsky asked whether there had been a public interest in the story.

“The public are paying for these people inside Broadmoor – they have committed some of the worst crimes,” Pyatt said.

“Halloween commemorates the dead rising again from the grave, having crosses and skulls and dressing up in fancy dress, it's a cost to the public taxpayer.

“I really could not understand such a party going ahead, and I thought it was in the public interest to publish the story.”

Pyatt then spoke about pictures published by The Sun in 2008 of convicted killer Robert Napper from inside Broadmoor grounds.

The picture showed Napper in a yard allegedly on his way to feed chickens and to tend to vegetables.

“It wasn't just him [Napper], it was an open area where prisoners fed chickens and grew vegetables,” said Pyatt.

“He [the photographer] went to a high piece of ground which has been notorious for photographers for many years.

“It gives you a good view over the terrace of Broadmoor.”

He explained that because it was Napper's choice whether to go outside or not, the photographer, he believed, waited for between seven and ten days to take the photograph.

Pyatt said former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks once arranged for a Christmas party to take place at the Two Brewers in Windsor because Pyatt had claimed expenses from there so often.

He said he was “notorious” for bringing in exclusives from the Two Brewers, so the editor decided to take the “Sun Bus” to see what the fuss was about.

Pyatt said they went on a “magical mystery tour” to the “journalistic” pub.

Chris Tarrant arrest – 'it was in The Guardian too'

Kovalevsky later cited a story The Sun ran on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” host Chris Tarrant's arrest in Woking in 2009 for a domestic assault.

A number of calls had been exchanged between Pyatt and Quinn in the lead up to the story being published.

Pyatt said that Quinn had done little more than confirm Tarrant's arrest and no confidential information had been included in the story.

“It must have been in the public interest because it was in The Guardian too,” Pyatt said.

“Chris Tarrant is a public figure. We have run a substantial campaign in the newspaper about victims of domestic assault.

“It [the story] is just to show that the police treated Chris Tarrant like anyone else when dealing with assaults.”

Pyatt then said his 2009 story about convicted rapist Kelly Edney, a Broadmoor patient, having a relationship with a Zimbabwean nurse at the high-security hospital was firmly in the public interest

Pyatt admitted Neave was his tipster for the story, and had been quoted in the article.

“Kelly Edney is a notorious rapist who killed a girl on her 16th birthday and put her through a horrific ordeal,” Pyatt explained.

“He was untreatable and had escaped from a number of times from hospitals.

Kovalevsky asked: “The fact that he is having a relationship with staff, what do the public have a right to know about this?”

“The terms of the patients being in Broadmoor is that effectively they are being sectioned,” Pyatt replied.

“A nurse entering into a relationship would be committing an offence under the law, because he [Edney] is not deemed to be mentally sufficient to consent.

“It would also put the nurse at risk, and it would mean he [Edney] would be able to manipulate members of staff very easily.

“There is a fierce public interest in reporting this.”

Pyatt said a follow-up story about Edney was again facilitated by Neave, but that there was “nothing wrong” with it.

“It follows a similar theme to the earlier one,” Pyatt said, and said Neave had been paid.

Kovalevsky then asked Pyatt about his exclusive “Cannibal Pops Out For An Op”, detailing how cannibal killer Peter Bryan was released from Broadmoor to be treated for an ingrowing toenail at a public hospital.

“I found it hard to understand why Broadmoor would have to mount such a security operation at the taxpayer's cost to deal with an ingrowing toenail,” Pyatt said.

“There is an infirmary there [at Broadmoor], an ingrowing toenail is not a difficult procedure.

“It caused quite a bit of pandemonium at the hospital as he was marched in and people were wondering what was happening.

“He is a very dangerous man and it is showing that procedures at Broadmoor were just not working properly.

“I think it [the story] was in the public interest and I stand by it.”

'The tipster was my wife'

Pyatt later explained he got his first tip off about the murder of 18-year-old schoolgirl Asha Muneer on a Reading towpath in 2010 from his wife.

“The tipster was my wife,” he said.

“She was on her way to work at an Optical Express in Reading, and on her way to work her bus passed the scene of the crime and she told me what was happening.

“The initial tip caused me to phone a news agency, INS.”

Pyatt said at the time, from the information he had received and when he arrived at the scene himself, he believed a murder had taken place.

“I had a telephone call in the afternoon informing me that the person who found the body was a man called Craig Tull,” he went on.

“It was not a public official [who called] but I am not prepared to reveal the source.

“I didn't know at this stage whether anybody else had been to see Mr Tull – I just knew this was a lead.”

Pyatt explained he later went to see Mr Tull at his home address on the day before he wrote an article about the killer.

The article, however, carried an incorrect photo of Tull.

Kovalevsky asked why Pyatt visited Tull.

“He may be able to give me a first-hand account of what the scene was he came across – basic evidence we could use in an article,” Pyatt answered.

“There is nothing wrong with that, it is standard journalistic practice.

“Most people who stumble across the scene of a crime, it's rare that they would not want to talk about it… but Mr Tull chose not to.”

Pyatt also maintained there was nothing confidential used in exclusive stories about glamour model Jordan's boyfriend Dane Bowers' arrest, and the accidental death of teenage trainee pilot Nicholas Rice.

Bowers was arrested in Surrey in 2009 for alleged drink driving while 15-year-old Nicholas' RAF plane collided with a civilian glider in the same year.

In 2010 The Sun reported that Yorkshire Ripper had gone into panic after a cutlery knife went missing inside Broadmoor, fearing for his safety.

Referring to public interest in the story, Pyatt said Neave had been paid for the information towards the article.

“In respect of public interest we have already gone through a story where an attack had been planned against the Yorkshire Ripper.

“It again seems patients are being given knives and the Ripper fears another attack.

“I just feel this story is one in the public interest  – how knives can go missing in Broadmoor is beyond me.”

Pyatt then said it was in the public interest that The Sun published “Beastly Boys” in 2010, an article explaining how Broadmoor inmates were being allowed to train as DJs.

“You have a number of dangerous men using taxpayers' money to become DJs behind the walls of Broadmoor,” he said.

Pyatt added he had nothing to do with a tipster in this case.

He went on to say that Quinn did nothing but confirm a story was true about a burglary at ex-Chelsea footballer Paulo Ferreira's house in 2010.

The reporter explained he had got his tip about the crime from somebody involved with Chelsea Football Club.

In terms of public interest, Pyatt said a number of similar burglaries had taken place at the home of Premier League footballers at the time, and the feeling was that a plot to target footballers when they were away from their homes existed.

Kovalevsky continued: “It is absolutely clear from what you say that you have no issue that you received information from Simon Quinn?”

“I accept that,” said Pyatt.

“You have no issue that you received information from Robert Neave, and that both he and Mr Quinn received payments?” Kovalevsky asked.

Pyatt agreed.

Pyatt has admitted paying PC Quinn and Mr Neave for 24 stories, but argues they were in the public interest and the public officials first approached him with information.

The trial continues.

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