A former Daily Mirror reporter accused of paying a prison officer has claimed that he actually donated some of the money to a Christmas party for retired journalists instead, a court heard yesterday.
Graham Brough, 54, was giving evidence on charges of aiding corruption in a public office at London’s Old Bailey alongside three journalists from The Sun and a former immigration detention officer who all deny the charges against them.
The jury was shown data, captured from the Mirror’s financial system which showed Brough had received £400 in cash to be paid to a prison officer for a story about Jack Tweed, the partner of Big Brother star Jade Goody, being put on suicide watch in Pentonville Prison. Brough said, however, that as his source had not asked for the money he had “kept it in his pocket” and later donated it to the retired reporters’ Christmas bash.
Brough also denied knowing that his prison source, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was employed at Pentonville Prison saying he assumed he had worked in a “bar or cafe” and had come across the information second-hand; although he had never asked what the source’s job was.
Brough also requested payments for his tipster for information about singer Boy George’s time in jail and a death in custody. Asked how he would have reacted if he had known it was a prison officer asking for money he told the court he would have replied “you’re joking”, as he knew paying public officials was against the rules of journalism.
The reporter, who during his career worked for the Yorkshire Post, The Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday before joining the Mirror, also told the court he had never been aware of any instance of a journalist paying a public officer. Asked if he had ever worked for The Sun newspaper Brough replied “I don’t want to be divisive or controversial but I would never work for The Sun unless my children were starving” adding that, although he did not like how that paper was governed, “a lot of nice people work there”.
The trial, the first involving a reporter from the Mirror on these charges, continues. All deny the charges against them.