Sun six trial: Journalist accused of paying for information about police downloading indecent images

Senior detectives who investigated the Soham murders of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were unaware of any leaks to The Sun from inside the massive police operation, a court heard yesterday.

DCI Chris Stevenson, the lead investigator, and spokesman Detective Superintendent Andy Hebb both said they had not noticed unauthorised material in the press during the 2002 inquiry.

The Sun's managing editor Graham Dudman (pictured above) is accused of paying a City of London officer for confidential information about the hunt for killer Ian Huntley.

But the officers said the police probe was so wide, including several different police forces, that they struggled to contain the flow of information to the press.

Det Supt Hebb said: "Due to the scale of the media coverage, I'm unable to say whether all press articles contained only information in the public domain as a result of press briefings, press interviews, press conferences, and similar."

DCI Stevenson, who was the senior investigating officer on Operation Fincham, the codename for the investigation, said he had no knowledge of any leaks to the media.

"I have no knowledge of that happening, both during and after the closure of Operation Fincham", he said.

The officer, who is now retired, said the only major problem during the investigation that he knew of related to the Daily Mail, and an issue of "press intrusion compromising an operational activity".

Assessing the stories said to have been leaked to Dudman, DCI Stevenson told Kingston Crown Court in a statement: "There are personal pieces of information that the force would not have given to the press.

"I can't comment as to the origin, other than to say it's not material we would deem fit to pass for publication."

Dudman is accused of paying an officer for leaks of the names of officers in the murder hunt who had been arrested for possessing indecent images of children.

DCI Stevenson added: "Whether it was passed prior to the discovery of the indecent images because of the profile of the officer as family liaison officer in the public domain would speculation."

Detective Superintendent John Birch, from West Midlands Police which probed the child porn allegations, said he did not believe the names had been leaked to The Sun.

"I don't suspect any information contained in the article to be the subject of a leak", he said in a statement.

Det Supt Birch said he had spotted a TV cameraman trying to record a police briefing through a window and told him to leave immediately.

He also witnessed a "media scrum" over unattended papers during a Bury St Edmunds Magistrates hearing which revealed the accused officers' home addresses.

"I saw a scrum of press reporters trying to get details from the charge sheet", he said.

"It required the involvement of uniformed officers to restore order to the court."

Det Supt Hebb said the murder investigation, which culminated in Ian Huntley being convicted of murdering schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, was large and not all officers could be briefed directly.

"Throughout Operation Fincham, the media strategy we pursued was to be as open and transparent as legally allowed to gain as much positive media coverage as possible", he said, "so as to obtain information from the community about the girls' disappearance and possible whereabouts.

"Also to provide community reassurance and maintain their confidence in the Cambridgeshire Constabulary."

He said press coverage was "enormous and sustained" and it was impossible to monitor all articles and news reports on the investigation.

He added: "I'm not able to say exactly what information would have been in the public domain at the time the articles were written."

Dudman, 51, is accused with head of news Chris Pharo, 45, deputy news editor Ben O'Driscoll, 38, reporters Jamie Pyatt, 51, and John Troup, 49, and picture editor John Edwards, of corruption at The Sun between 2002 and 2011.

The six defendants are accused of a decade-long campaign of payments to police officers, prison guards, healthcare workers in Broadmoor Hospital, and serving soldiers.

Pyatt is accused of buying leaks from Surrey Police PC Simon Quinn for years, cultivating him as an important source of confidential information.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said Pyatt and Quinn exchanged texts and calls before a story appeared in The Sun about the discovery of a body in a river during the hunt for missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

The body, not Dowler's, was spotted by a member of the public at 3.48pm on 23 April, 2002, and identified as female an hour later.

Wright there were six calls between Quinn and Pyatt that day, between 6.23pm and 7.14pm.

The article appeared the following day, and two days later, on 26 April, 2002, a £500 cash payment was authorised by The Sun for Quinn.

Pharo, of Wapping Wall, Wapping, east London, denies six counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

O'Driscoll, of Windsor, Berkshire, and Dudman, of Brentwood, Essex, both deny four counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Edwards, of Hutton, Brentwood, Essex, and Pyatt, of Windsor, deny three counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Troup, of, Saffron Walden, Essex, denies two counts of misconduct in public office. 

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