Kentish Town soldier in Prince Harry’s regiment ‘sold story tips to newspapers’
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
A Kentish Town soldier in Prince Harry’s regiment was paid more than £16,000 to provide information and pictures about him to two newspapers, a court heard.
Paul Brunt, 32, of Bartholomew Road, then a lance corporal in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry, provided details about Harry and other soldiers in the unit to the News of the World (NOTW) and The Sun over an 18-month period in 2006 and 2007, the Old Bailey was told yesterday.
The court heard that he was paid for information, pictures and tip-offs that led to stories appearing in the papers, and received other payments simply to “keep him sweet” as a valuable contact.
The court heard that he was the source of a picture for a 2006 story in the NOTW entitled Swastika Shame Of Harry’s Regiment, for which he was paid £5,000, and also provided info about the royal’s deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Brunt is standing trial accused of misconduct in a public office.
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Ryan Sabey, 34, who was a NOTW royal reporter at the time, is standing trial alongside him, accused of assisting him.
Julian Christopher QC, prosecuting, told the jury: “It was the fact that this was the regiment that Prince Harry was in, which meant that any stories, or photos, or tip-offs about the regiment or about Prince Harry himself, however inconsequential they may seem, had a financial value to the two newspapers this case is concerned with, the News of the World and The Sun.”
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Mr Christopher added that there were strict rules preventing serving soldiers talking to the press, adding: “Paul Brunt knew that full well, but none the less he provided the paper with inside information as an easy way to make money.”
He said over the period concerned Brunt was paid more than £16,000 by the two newspapers.
He continued: “Whether to do with the deployment of Prince Harry to Iraq and Afghanistan or ... stories about other soldiers in the regiment that were deemed newsworthy simply because the soldiers were in the same regiment as Prince Harry, he was receiving numerous payments over a long period of time, showing him to be a source of inside information.”
News International’s own accounting records show the payments being made, with £9,450 from the now defunct Sunday tabloid and £7,200 from The Sun, Mr Christopher said.
Addressing the charge against Sabey, the prosecution claim that he sent an email in which he described Brunt as “an extremely important contact” and requested cash payments be made to him, including £1,500 for a story about Prince Harry prior to deployment.
Mr Christopher said that Sabey “knew full well” that Brunt was not allowed to release information to the press.
The barrister added: “It is no legitimate part of a journalist’s job to entice or encourage a public officer into misconduct in his office.
“It is no defence to say others knew about it or others were doing it too.”
Brunt is accused of committing misconduct in a public office by entering into an arrangement with the NOTW to provide information in exchange for payment.
He is also charged with misconduct in a public office in relation to his dealings with The Sun.
Sabey, of Bethnal Green, is charged with aiding and abetting Brunt to commit misconduct in a public office in relation to the NOTW.
Both men deny all the charges against them.
The trial continues.