Search

HMRC press officer who leaked budget secrets to The Sun avoids jail

PUBLISHED: 18:27 09 February 2015 | UPDATED: 18:27 09 February 2015

HMRC press officer Jonathan Hall has avoided jail after admitting leaking details of the 2010 budget to The Sun. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA

HMRC press officer Jonathan Hall has avoided jail after admitting leaking details of the 2010 budget to The Sun. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

A former government press officer has avoided jail after admitting leaking details of the 2010 budget to The Sun before the chancellor could deliver it to MPs.

Jonathan Hall's girlfriend Marta Bukarewicz was cleared of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PAJonathan Hall's girlfriend Marta Bukarewicz was cleared of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA

Jonathan Hall, 53, of Grafton Road, Kentish Town, pleaded guilty in August 2013 to conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office by accepting £17,475 for the tips he gave The Sun’s Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley while he worked at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Today, he was sentenced at the Old Bailey to eight months in jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay prosecution costs of £535.

Judge Peter Rook QC told him: “Your job was to manage the dissemination of news, not to disclose it for your personal enrichment.

“Between April 2008 and July 2011 you sold information - receiving rewards to the sum of £17,475 - including the unauthorised leaking of details of the 2010 budget before the chancellor had the chance to speak in Parliament.

“What was quite clear to you, this was an unauthorised disclosure and that this was in advance of the proper time for disclosure and you were well aware the confidentiality was time-sensitive.”

He went on: “The real criminality here lies in the fact that during that period you had two paymasters - HMRC and News International.”

The judge told Hall that an aggravating feature in the case was that he had involved his girlfriend Marta Bukarewicz in his crime, putting her through “the most stressful of trials”.

He noted that despite that, Ms Bukarewicz was still supporting and standing by her boyfriend, remarking: “You owe her a great deal.”

Ms Hartley, 40, of Brockley, south east London, and Ms Bukarewicz, 45, also of Grafton Road, Kentish Town, were cleared of the same charge after a trial at the Old Bailey in November.

Earlier, prosecutor Zoe Johnson QC told the court that Hall, was senior press officer at the law enforcement desk for HMRC.

She said: “His role was to answer questions for journalists and identify opportunities for media coverage and react to negative stories so he was made aware in advance of issues likely to come to light.

“He attended daily morning meetings attended by all HMRC press officers and was part of the press office rota so had to be available at weekends and evenings, therefore had to be kept informed of the entire gamut of HMRC duties.

“He was privy to confidential budgetary decisions, tax affairs and fiscal policies.

“Of the 18 articles in The Sun for which he was paid, 10 were in breach of his duty of confidentiality and amount to unauthorised disclosure.”

Hall’s first contact with Ms Hartley was made in August 2008 and he was first paid £500 in April 2008, which was before he became press officer for HMRC.

He also recieved £750 for the 2010 budget leak, the court heard.

In mitigation, Richard Wormald said Hall was an “odd fish” at HMRC and he had joined the civil service in an attempt to grow up.

On his dealings with Ms Hartley, he said: “He was seduced by the money. He was seduced by the attention.”

Hall smiled and shook his lawyer’s hand as he left the courtroom but declined to comment to reporters.

A confiscation hearing was set for April 16 at the Old Bailey.

Related articles

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

09:48

Opponents of the 100 Avenue Road development suffered a major blow last night as Camden voted through a controversial plan that will funnel seven lorries a day through residential streets in Swiss Cottage.

Yesterday, 17:35

The families left homeless by the fire that destroyed the upper floors of Willow House in East Finchley last week said Barnet Council treated them “like ants to be squashed” in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

Yesterday, 12:44

The Temple Fortune community was celebrating on Tuesday after Barnet’s Finchley and Golders Green planning committee unanimously rejected plans to build housing on the old Templars Tennis Club.

Yesterday, 12:10

Tens of thousands of pounds, weapons and drugs were seized after searching a garage in the Peckwater Estate on Tuesday morning.

Yesterday, 11:55

Passengers on the Barking to Gospel Oak line have become used to delays and disruption in recent times.

Wed, 17:58

A man has been convicted over the “senseless” stabbing of a Dutch man in Camden Lock in 2016.

Wed, 17:04

Camden Council will correct a sign that says a park will be closed every day at dusk, despite it having no way to shut it.

Wed, 13:01

A Cumbrian couple have been left scared for their property after receiving a bailiff’s letter demanding council tax for a Maida Vale property they have no connection to.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now