Jury retires in trial of Sun journalist accused of paying government official

The Sun's Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley. Picture: PA/John Stillwell

The Sun's Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley. Picture: PA/John Stillwell - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A jury has retired to consider verdicts in the trial of a Sun reporter accused of plotting with a government press officer over a string of leaks to the newspaper, including secrets of Alistair Darling’s 2010 budget.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) press officer Jonathan Hall was allegedly paid around £17,000 for tips to Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley over a period of three years.

The Old Bailey trial has heard that in March 2010 Hall gave the journalist information that went into an exclusive double-page spread about Mr Darling’s budget before he stood up to deliver it to MPs. A financial trail revealed that Hall was paid £750 for the story.

He was also paid £500 for a story in December 2009 about celebrities including Kelly Brook being paid as part of a £1.3million taxpayer-funded TV campaign publicising the Government website Directgov, jurors were told.

The court has heard that Hartley suggested to Hall that he channel the News International payments through the bank account of his girlfriend Marta Bukarewicz because he was a “protected source”.

Hartley, 40, of Manor Avenue, Brockley, and Bukarewicz, 45, who lives with Hall in Grafton Road, Kentish Town, deny a charge of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.