Private details about Princes William and Harry sold to ‘Godfather J’ from the Suburb, jury hears

PUBLISHED: 15:04 13 January 2015 | UPDATED: 15:04 13 January 2015

Former Sun chief reporter John Kay leaving the Old Bailey where he is charged with conspiring to pay Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan-Barber around £100,000 for information. Picture: PA/Lewis Whyld

Former Sun chief reporter John Kay leaving the Old Bailey where he is charged with conspiring to pay Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan-Barber around £100,000 for information. Picture: PA/Lewis Whyld

PA Archive/Press Association Images

A chief reporter from Hampstead Garden Suburb has gone on trial with other journalists accused of paying public officials for story tips, including “gossip and tittle-tattle” about Princes William and Harry.

While working for The Sun, John Kay, 71, of Asmuns Hill, received tips from Ministry of Defence (MoD) official Bettina Jordan-Barber, who made £100,000 by selling stories to him, the Old Bailey heard.

Prosecutor Michael Parroy, QC, said Kay maintained a “close and mutually beneficial” relationship with Jordan-Barber over a period of eight years.

In emails to then editor Rebekah Brooks, the chief reporter referred to her as his “number one military contact” while Jordan-Barber called him “Godfather J” in her mobile phone address book, the court heard.

She not only held a senior position compiling news briefings for the MoD, but her husband was an instructor at Sandhurst military academy around the time William and Harry were officer cadets.

Jordan-Barber allegedly used her access to sensitive information to give Kay details on army discipline and deaths in Afghanistan, as well as stories from Sandhurst about the princes.

Opening the trial, Mr Parroy said: “This trial is about greed. It is about public employees who were prepared, for money, to sell to the press stories which they had obtained in the course of their work.

“By this process they abused the trust placed in them by the public, you and I, to keep such private information private.”

He continued: “It is about the practices used by The Sun to obtain ‘scoops’ and ‘exclusives’, irrespective of the fact that the means of achieving this end involved the commission, by the journalists and the public officials, of criminal offences, the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.”

He went on: “The value placed on the information or material provided by these public officials was newsworthiness.

“Tittle-tattle and gossip about the Royal Princes, William and Harry, had a special value, as did titbits involving salacious or embarrassing conduct involving the revelation of such things as affairs between serving soldiers or their civilian counterparts; a ‘love triangle’.

“The other recurring theme is personal tragedy in the battlegrounds of Helmand province and Iraq.

“The public interest in such stories and involving such personal and private matters was often, you may conclude, marginal or non-existent.”

Kay is on trial alongside royal editor Duncan Larcombe, 39, of Aylesford, Kent, who was fed stories by former Colour Sergeant at Sandhurst, John Hardy, jurors were told.

While working at Sandhurst, Hardy was allegedly paid more than £23,700 for providing Larcombe with information on the princes and others on 34 occasions.

Also in the dock are executive editor Fergus Shanahan, 59, of Felsted, Essex, deputy editor Geoffrey Webster, 55, of Goudhurst, Kent, former Colour Sergeant John Hardy, 44, and his wife Claire Hardy, 41, of Accrington, Lancashire.

Kay, Shanahan, and Webster are jointly charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office between January 1, 2004, and January 31, 2012, by plotting with Jordan-Barber, of Shrivenham, Swindon.

Shanahan and Webster allegedly authorised payments, sometimes in consultation with Mrs Brooks, who was acquitted of plotting to commit misconduct in a public office.

Webster also faces a second count of conspiracy to commit misconduct with a serving officer in the armed forces between November 3 and 6, 2010.

John Hardy is charged with misconduct in a public office. Claire Hardy is accused of aiding and abetting him in the offence.

Larcombe is charged with aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring John Hardy in the offence.

All deny the charges against them.

The trial is expected to last for three months.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories


Keir Starmer has said the government’s approach to Universal Credit is similar to the “hostile environment” policy that led to the Windrush scandal.

Yesterday, 16:30

The Phoenix Cinema will hold a meeting on fundraising for the historic cinema this weekend.

Yesterday, 13:14

A special interfaith Remembrance Sunday parade in Highgate saw attendees from across faiths and generations join together to pay their respects to those who fought and died in the First World War.

Yesterday, 11:59

Camden Council has backed calls for a second referendum on Brexit, with councillors overwhelmingly supporting a motion last night.

Yesterday, 11:21

A charity café in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park run by the Camden Society has been lauded for its inclusivity and work in the community.

Yesterday, 10:42

Mitzvah Day organisers are encouraging everyone to volunteer for a good cause on Sunday – so the Ham&High got into the spirit by helping out a group of heroes who give supplies and friendship to homeless people every week.

Yesterday, 09:43

The killers of a man who succumbed to horrific injuries inflicted on him in a drunken hostel fight five and a half years earlier have been sentenced over his murder.

Mon, 17:07

A sixteen year old boy has been charged with grievous bodily harm with intent over the Billy Fury Way stabbing which left another teenager in a “critical condition” in hospital.


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


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now