Paying the price: The cost of dealing with The Sun

By James Doleman

The not guilty verdicts at the recent trial of four Sun journalists on charges relating to payments to public officials has led to the Metropolitan Police’s “Operation Elveden” being branded a failure by The Sun and other tabloid newspapers. Demands to “stop the witch-hunt” and in one case a comparison between the Crown Prosecution Service and Hitler have graced our red-top press.

Yet while the many of the journalists so far tried on charges of making illegal payments to public officials have been found not guilty or face re-trials, the police inquiry into tabloid corruption has been getting results. In parallel with the well reported acquittals and hung juries of editors and reporters there have been less reported guilty verdicts, and often terms of imprisonment, for the civil servants, soldiers, police and prison officers who sold information to The Sun. A number of these cannot currently be reported for legal reasons.

One conviction we can now tell you about is that of Bettina Jordan-Barber, known as Betsy to her workmates. She was a senior and trusted Ministry of Defence (MOD) civil servant at the UK Land Forces Secretariat, responsible for welfare and disciplinary matters in the British Army. One day Mrs Jordan-Barber phoned The Sun to ask if the newspaper was planning to publish a story about an acquaintance who had been having an affair with a naval officer. She was passed on to chief reporter John Kay who, recognising her value, met her for lunch the next day where they agreed that she would tell him about important military stories in return for payment.

Over the next few years Mrs Jordan-Barber gave John Kay the basis of dozens of exclusive articles in return for payments totalling £100,000. She was ideally placed as a source as it was her job to brief the MOD press office on what lines to take if the media inquired about an incident. She would give him all the details so he could phone the press office, who would be forced to confirm them – it was perfect. It’s clear that Mrs Jordan-Barber thought of the journalist as a friend, her family called him “Godfather John” and that is how he was listed on Betsy’s mobile phone.

During his testimony at his own trial John Kay said he had assured the civil servant that “no-one in this building is ever going to betray you”. Mrs Jordan-Barber is now in prison serving a 12 month sentence for misconduct in a public office.

So how was she caught? In the wake of the phone-hacking scandal Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation was desperate to avoid a US corporate prosecution not least because some of their senior executives were under investigation. So the company’s board agreed a “memorandum of understanding” with the police.

In return for confirmation that the company was “co-operating with the investigation” lawyers retained by the “Management Standards Committee” of News Corporation uploaded 23 million internal emails to a secure sever. The police then searched the database for words like “bung, bribe, copper, screw” and, when they came across something of interest, cross referenced it with financial records, which generally listed the name of the “confidential source” and the stories they had contributed to. This involved a lot of painstaking work but given the degree of information the police had access to it was the investigative equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. In every trial of the public officials the prosecution produced large colour-coded timeline – documents that showed exactly who was paid how much for what; and it was all thanks to those helpful executives of the Management and Standards Committee.

It’s no surprise that most of those the sources identified pleaded guilty, especially as they would not have Britain’s biggest media organisation paying their legal bills.

The relationship between the police and the company is not what it was and the days when the media giant handed over documents with such gay abandon are over, mainly due to the Crown Prosecution Service refusing to rule out corporate charges. However that is not a lot of comfort to the confidential sources who now languish in prison.

Due to the ongoing trials and re-trials of Sun reporters there are many of these who we cannot name to avoid prejudicing future proceedings. But spare a thought for ex-Surrey PC Alan Tierney, jailed for 16 months for selling information about the arrest of footballer John Terry’s mother, or Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn who served 15 months for giving information to the News of the World about the phone-hacking investigation Neither of these cases made the front pages.

There has been much talk in the press about how the jury at The Sun four trial “stood up for free speech” which is odd because checking my notes from two months of evidence I can’t find a single reference to that phrase. There is however a more prosaic, if less newsworthy, explanation for why journalists are being acquitted and sources are not.

The Bribery Act 2010 came into force in 2012. It is now clearly an offence to pay a public official for information. The cases involving Sun journalists, however, all pre-date this, so prosecutors have been forced to rely on the old common law offence of “misconduct in a public office”. To be found guilty under this the actions of the newspaper’s source have to be “without reasonable excuse or justification” and “be so serious as to make the public lose faith in the office holder”. This is complex enough but to convict a journalist of conspiring in the offence a jury has firstly to be sure that the reporter paid the official knowing they were a public official. Secondly they must also be sure that they knew (or ought to have known) that that they had no reasonable excuse and that their actions were so serious they could constitute an offence. High hurdles to jump when all of the journalists testified that they had never heard of, or been told of, this obscure piece of law.

The one question asked by the jury in The Sun Four trial was to ask the judge to define the “so serious” part of the charge, which suggests it may have been reasonable doubt about this element of the offence, not the nebulous concept of a free press, that led to their verdicts.

Bettina Jordan-Barber was at the heart of the British establishment, married to a distinguished army officer and trusted enough to give Clarence House and Buckingham Palace confidential briefings on military matters. By all accounts PC Tierney and DCI Casburn did their jobs faithfully and well. None of them had ever come to the attention of the law until they got involved with Britain’s tabloid press, and they paid a terrible price.

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Roy Stockdillreply
March 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm

And where does this leave whistle blowers who are public officials but who genuinely wish to bring to public notice and attention scandals, lies, incompetence and corruption in their own departments?

Presumably you are in favour of cover-ups of misbehaviour at the highest levels of public office? Such hypocrisy!

Carol Croftreply
March 24, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Here’s a suggestion Roy? How about you have a good read of all the hard work Hacked Off have done around journalism and while you’re at it have another look, but carefully this time, at what’s published in the Guardian concerning the the press civil & criminal trials?
Then compare and contrast with the preconceived ‘notions’ you’ve displayed on this site.

Don’t worry too much – you’ve plenty of company out there that also haven’t a clue about Hacked Off’s approach to press regulation and ethical journalism.

Roy Stockdillreply
March 24, 2015 at 6:30 pm

I regard the Grauniad as the newspaper with a tiny, paltry circulation compared with the tabloids but arguably the one with the greatest political clout, given that it is virtually the BBC’s in-house journal and read by the politically correct brigade of Lib-Lefties and pompous pseudo-intellectuals who love telling the rest of us what to think in best Orwellian Newspeak!

Hacked Off’s approach to press regulation, and that of the fatuous Leveson Inquiry, is driven by politicians thirsting for blood and revenge over the exposes of their sexual peccadilloes and expenses scandals, sanctimonious, self righteous showbiz luvvies like St Hugh of Grant who long to control everything that’s written about them, and a few obscure provincial Marxist academics that very few people other than Guardian readers have ever heard of.

And, of course, behind it all is an all-pervading hatred of Murdoch, the Mail and other popular newspapers because the one thing the Left cannot bear is SUCCESS and the fact that millions of ordinary buy the tabloids. I have asked before, and still await an answer, as to whether there is anyone in Hacked Off who has ever actually worked on a newspaper because the level of naivety displayed is extraordinary!

How is it that while journalists and whistle blowers in public office are the subject of an unbelievable waste of public money in pursuing this witch hunt against the press, neither Leveson nor anyone else has pursued the allegations of phone hacking and other misdemeanours against bent and avaricious lawyers, local councils, and private detectives working for big companies? If you want to see a muzzled press under state control and prevented from exposing cover-ups of corruption and incompetence, I suggest you go and live in Putin’s Russia, China, North Korea or one of the backward medieval Muslim regimes like Saudi Arabia.

James dolemanreply
March 24, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Glad you liked the article Roy.

Carol Croftreply
March 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Homework too much for you Roy?

So what is the Guardian’s view on the criminal charges? Btw – I don’t agree (with the Guardian’s view) – but I need to know that you understand so as not to write you off as some sort of deluded egotistical nutcase?

The supporters of Hacked Off do include Journalists you do know that don’t you ?

FYI – is there anything more sanctimonious than the press in full cry demanding that the public genuflect before them press at the same time as demanding the right to know who’s boffing who, when where and how often?

The press’ reputation as supposed truth-tellers to those in power is in shreds (the Telegraph) – they and their ‘misdemeanours’ are clogging up the courts with criminal & civil trials – poor dears they would give the late Frankie Howard a run for his money – ” Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy!”

You are seriously deluded if you don’t see the evidence of a foreigner, Rupert Murdoch, with all the levers to power at his disposal (in only his own interests), as detrimental to a our democracy. The evidence is there for all to see in the 1st part of the Leveson Inquiry. Roll on Part II.

Roy Stockdillreply
March 24, 2015 at 8:55 pm
– In reply to: Carol Croft

All I see is the demonisation and hatred of Murdoch and the rest of the press by Loony Left pretentious Guardianistas with an inflated view of their own self importance. Isn’t it funny that all of you people seem to read nothing but the Grauniad? As I said earlier, a tiny newspaper but one with influence totally beyond its circulation.

I suggest you read Richard Littlejohn in today’s Mail and his comment that Bernard Hyphen-Howe and his politically correct Met Police have spent over £33 million pounds and employed more of his coppers persecuting journalists than they have done seeking out terrorists and real criminals. The Sun journalists who have been acquitted of all charges didn’t kill anybody, did they?

Brian Cathcart? I spent half a century in local and national newspapers, with 30 years in Fleet Street, and I’ve never heard of him! Proper journalists don’t become professors of journalism or whatever he may be, they remain dedicated journalists. Has this Cathcart ever exposed any politicians or bent coppers or lawyers? In my time – and if you had done any homework you would know that I worked for the News of the World for most of my career, but retired well before the phone hacking occurred – and was responsible for several villains and conmen being sent to jail. What have you done, Carol, apart from read The Guardian, that is?

Maire Daviesreply
March 24, 2015 at 8:39 pm

Good work Carol. Whistleblowers don’t need to be paid and many, if not most, aren’t. Nobody opposes whistle blowing, Hacked Off and others oppose corruption and press bullying and they defend all sorts of people, most of them not celebrities. If by ‘obscure, provincial Marxist academics’ you mean the likes of Brian Cathcart, of Kingston University, formerly of Reuters, and former Director of Hacked Off, Roy, Carol is right: you need to do some homework. Proper investigative journalists, as distinct from scandal-mongers, are needed to expose the abuse of power, bribery and corruption – in the press, as elsewhere. So good work Guardian and thanks.

March 24, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Roy, you don’t seriously believe that any of the salacious crap that the Sun pays cash for is genuine “whistleblowing”…? That’s a classic Dacre/Murdoch lie.

Roy Stockdillreply
March 25, 2015 at 1:23 pm
– In reply to: Dan

I don’t expect you’ve bothered to read the Littlejohn piece, Dan. Presumably you wouldn’t sully your pretentious little soul by looking at the Mail!

You should also know that I have very little respect for the views of people who are too gutless to post their real, full names. I on the contrary am more than willing to stick my head above the parapet!

Roy Stockdillreply
March 24, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Seeing as none of you appear to be terribly bright and clearly don’t know what Google is for, I will tell you all about myself, if only to establish that I am not a deluded egotistical nutcase! A moment’s Googling would have found me on LinkedIn and on the blogs I do as a professional genealogist, specialising in researching the ancestries of well-known celebrities, and hundreds of other references. I suggest an apology might be in order?

I never went to university, unlike you varsity-educated Guardian-reading ponces! I’m a Yorkshireman and when I was 15, before I had even taken my GCEs at a northern grammar school, I walked into the offices of my local paper, the Halifax Evening Courier, with my school satchel on my back, and asked to see the Editor. They were so amazed at my cheek they took me to see him and a few weeks later he wrote to my father and gave me a job. Instead of emerging from university with a Mickey Mouse degree in sociology or some other pointless qualification, I came up the hard way, covering funerals, council meetings, magistrates courts, church fetes, fairs and many other local events. I moved around the provincial papers for 10 years and eventually wound up in Fleet Street where my ambitions always lay from the age of about 12. I worked for a couple of years for a long-forgotten socialist newspaper, the Sunday Citizen, owned by the Co-op Party and unceremoniously closed down virtually overnight. I got a temporary summer job at the News of the World, then not even owned by Murdoch but a totally different broadsheet paper and an old-fashioned scroll-type masthead that you won’t even remember.

I spent 10 years on the road as a reporter, travelling widely in Britain, Europe and America, covering many many stories, meeting more famous people than most of you have had hot dinners, and exposing several conmen and criminals who I was mostly responsible for getting sent to jail. I then became a features executive for 10 years, commissioning other staff and freelance journalists. In the course of this I again had to deal with many famous showbiz luvvies, which is how I came to despise many of them and their hangers-on, managers, PRs and so on, who demanded the right to control the copy, photos and everything else. These people love it when the publicity is all their way and so they invade their own privacy (like St Hugh of Grant) but they can’t take it when the boot is on the other foot and the serpent comes back to bite them. I then spent a further 10 years as serialisations editor, buying celebrity memoirs from publishers, adapting and publishing them for the paper. So I’ve done just about everything in the business and am hardened to pompous comments from lefty pseudo-intellectual Guardian-reading pillocks! In my long career I knew many tabloid journalists who could have walked into a job on the so-called “posh” papers because they were faster, sharper, better journalists, but it didn’t work the other way round. I recall Andrew Neil saying once that whenever he got a job application from someone with a degree in media studies it went straight into his waste bin! Quite right too.

I retired from Fleet Street in 1997, well before the phone hacking broke out, principally because I had become disillusioned with the tabloids’ obsession with the cult of celebrity. However, I decided to carve out my own niche in that area and concentrated on celebrity ancestries, with blogs similar to the TV series Who Do You Think You Are? because I found that far more interesting than who they were sleeping with.

I am now a pensioner of 74 and a millionaire, mostly through property inheritance and because I’ve worked bloody hard all of my life. No doubt that will set you Lefties against me also? Now tell me who you are, Carol, and what you’ve done? Best wishes!

Carol Croftreply
March 24, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Four things Roy.

Journalists don’t operate in a vacuum they affect the world I and my family inhabit. When the press abuse their privileges, when they behave corruptly they need reminding of the boundaries, legal and ethical. It does seem from much of the evidence presented in the Weeting and Elveden trials that the journalists on the front line require protection from from ignorance of the law, exploitation, bullying etc – how could you disagree? #phonehacking

Btw what did you find, in your extensive research, of the Guardian view of the #Elveden charging decisions?

Why on earth do you think Murdoch needs defending? He’s big enough and powerful enough to look after himself. And you must know, with your extensive career, all of his murky methods & background?

Lastly, you seem to be quite content to have a curious conversation with yourself or some imaginary other rather than address direct questions – is that your journalist training?

PS How many public officials have been jailed, lost their jobs, careers, pensions by taking corrupt payments? This is about more than journalists.

March 24, 2015 at 9:49 pm

Anyone who quotes Richard Littlejohn/Daily Mail as “evidence” needs their head examined. There are no facts in the Mail just heavily editorialised narratives that suit Dacre’s illiberal fantasies.

March 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Oh, it’s name-calling now is it, Roy? “None of you are terribly bright” says the man who points to Richard Littlejohn for his evidence. Hilarious!

Roy Stockdillreply
March 24, 2015 at 10:11 pm


As I said earlier, the problem with you Guardianistas is that you can’t bear the fact that the Sun outsells the Guardian by a factor of around two million compared to a paltry 185,000, is it not?

The Lib-Left never could stand success! You would prefer everyone to be reduced to the lowest common denominator of mediocrity in a fatuous search for so-called “equality” when equality doesn’t exist and never has done because people are not born equal. Everyone in the world is different and has differing genes, differing intelligence levels and differing abilities to accept and utilise education, Some people are simply born cleverer than others and they are the ones who will invariably rise to the top and you will have to get used to the fact!

Roy Stockdillreply
March 24, 2015 at 10:17 pm

I ask again: why did Leveson and you lot not investigate the phone hacking crimes of bent lawyers, local councils, and private detectives working for major companies – all equally culpable, if not worse, than newspapers. Or are possibly some Hacked Off supporters lawyers and would prefer not to have their own crimes exposed? I don’t imagine I need to quote what Shakespeare said about lawyers in Henry VI Part 2?

Roy Stockdillreply
March 24, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Still don’t know who you are, Carol, and what YOU have done? I regret nothing about my career of half a century in newspapers and am bloody proud of much of it. I got some conmen and villains jailed by my investigative stories, I wonder whether the pretentious Grauniad or you can claim as much? Moreover, in 30 years in Fleet Street I was never once sued for libel because I was always scrupulously careful with my evidence and my reporting.

I can’t hold anything against Murdoch personally because 1) I never met him and 2) after he took over the News of the World the salaries of journalists increased tenfold, plus he paid into the pension scheme and never stole it in the manner that the late, unlamented Robert Maxwell did!

Roy Stockdillreply
March 24, 2015 at 10:43 pm

In a truly democratic society, a free press – albeit with warts and all sometimes – is one of the very few bastions against totalitarianism and oppressive state fascism.

And if you want something other than that, like a muzzled press that is cowed and terrified to expose corruption, lies and incompetence at the highest levels – as in the appalling cover-up of paedophiles in the upper classes of government, civil servants, and even policemen that is only now being exposed by the press – I suggest you all go and live in Russian, China, North Korea or Saudi Arabia. And I wish you joy of the experience!

Peter Jukesreply
March 25, 2015 at 1:49 am


At least have some facts at your disposal when you talk about the press the “the appalling cover-up of paedophiles”. Our heavily concentrated press, 80% owned by six billionaires, did nothing to expose Sir Jimmy Savile and Sir Cyril Smith. Indeed, Kelvin Mackenzie, then editor of the Sun, had the police file on Cyril Smith in 1982, and did nothing about it. Most newspapers new about Savile, but it took Ofcom regulated broadcasters (in the shape of ITV using research done by the Newsnight producers Meirion Jones and Liz McKean) to expose Savile’s multiple crimes, unfortunately after his death

The free press you speak of might have existed in the days of the coffee shops and pamphleteers, but today newspaper publishing is big corporate business, and – just as the Telegraph over HSBC – often inclined to cover up stories of powerful friends. Or, as in the case of phone hacking at News of the World and the Mirror Group, suppress any reportings of its wrongdoings, and harry and intimidate lawyers, journalists or politicians who try to expose the cover up. News International hired private detectives to follow the phone hacking lawyers and members of the select committee, in order to dig dirt on them

So unless you’ve been living in another country, or cloud cuckoo land, you’re turning a wilful blind eye to the wrong doings of corporations and individuals. The level of privacy intrusion and criminality in Fleet Street, already exposed in the convictions so far, is without precedent as far as I can discover any other press in the world. Muzzling criminality is what law and democracy is for.

Free speech belongs to all of us, not just some loud columnists or entitled newspaper editors. Thanks to social media, the corruption of some segments of the press has been exposed.

Roy Stockdillreply
March 25, 2015 at 1:39 pm
– In reply to: Peter Jukes

You forget that newspapers have always been subject to the laws of libel and Savile and Smith both had ample funds to mount such a case against them, just as did the late unlamented Robert Maxwell who rejoiced in chucking libel writs at anybody who tried to expose his corruption.

And anyway, has it not been revealed that the cover-ups of the crimes of Smith and Savile went right to the very top of politics, Whitehall and the civil service, even the likes of Maggie Thatcher?

There was no need for the Leveson Inquiry at all since there were already laws, both criminal and civil, in place to deal with the alleged misdemeanours. The current witch hunt against journalists, costing many millions of pounds of public money, was fuelled by the high and mighty of the Establishment seeking to prevent the exposure of their peccadilloes and fiddles and lies to the public, showbiz luvvies wanting to control everything written about them, and lib-left Guardianistas who hate anything and anyone that is actually popular and successful – unlike their house journal with the tiny, paltry circulation.

James dolemanreply
March 25, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Hello Roy

Can I ask, what did you think of the article?

Roy Stockdillreply
March 25, 2015 at 3:07 pm
– In reply to: James doleman

But do you seriously think many people trust the BBC for unbiased reporting any more, especially when the organisation is subsidised by millions of pounds of public funding and has a captive audience visa the licence fee, and when The Guardian is virtually the in-house journal for senior executives pandering to the Left?

Roy Stockdillreply
March 25, 2015 at 4:46 pm
– In reply to: James doleman

In the words of the midget millionaire, Paul Daniels, not a lot!

You may be interested to know that I myself received a letter from some inspector connected to Operation Elveden asking me to phone them because they believed that I had been the victim of phone hacking! This was just last autumn, 17 years after I had retired from Fleet Street.

Baffled, I spoke to a woman DC who told me that they had found my name on a list of contacts they had obtained from a former News of the World colleague who had been arrested. I explained to the DC that I had actually worked for the paper for 30 years and that my byline had appeared in it many many times, I was fairly well known in Fleet Street and so it was hardly surprising that my name and number were on a contact list of a former colleague, so why couldn’t the police had found this out by simple enquiries? She was somewhat annoyed and responded tartly “Well, we don’t have the time to do everything.”

In the light of my experience, I can’t help wondering how competent the officers at Operation Elveden are and how many other things they might have got wrong!

And after many requests, I am STILL awaiting a reply to my question as to why Hacked Off are not interested in pursuing claims that lawyers, councils and big multinational companies have been involved in phone hacking. or is Hacked Off interested only in censoring the press and encouraging cover-ups for the high and mighty?

Peter Jukesreply
March 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm

“The current witch hunt against journalists, costing many millions of pounds of public money, was fuelled by the high and mighty of the Establishment seeking to prevent the exposure of their peccadilloes and fiddles and lies to the public, showbiz luvvies wanting to control everything written about them, and lib-left Guardianistas who hate anything and anyone that is actually popular and successful – unlike their house journal with the tiny, paltry circulation.”

And there you have the malaise of British journalism in a nutshell – a malaise you obviously did you bit to contribute to. A fact-free set of opinions, melding together political bias, inverted snobbery, class hatred, and – having studied the court cases and related evidence for four years now – completely uninformed

Tabloids under Cudlipp, the Express in the 50s, proved you can be popular and informative.

As you so amply display here, the tabloid style has now reverted to personal attacks in the absence of evidence. No wonder red tops are held in such low esteem – as trustworthy sources of news – by the vast majority of the British public – who incidentally trust broadcast journalists much more.

Reporters should report. James Doleman (who comes from Glasgow not Islington) shows how it’s done. You. unfortunately, show what’s wrong

Roy Stockdillreply
March 25, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Vast majority of the British public?

Sun circulation – almost 2 million.
Mail – 1,600,000 and a bit.
Guardian – 85,000 and a bit.
Independent – 61,000 and a bit.

I agree about Cudlipp’s papers and the Express under Arthur Christiansen (editor 1933-1957) but they were simpler days because we didn’t have so much lunatic political correctness and the politicians of their day were major figures, not the pathetic pygmies of today.

Peter Jukesreply
March 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm
– In reply to: Roy Stockdill

Thank you for those stats. They prove my point even more. The vast majority of the British public don’t buy papers. And every poll shows trust in print journalism has sunk to historic lows

Roy Stockdillreply
March 25, 2015 at 3:08 pm
– In reply to: Peter Jukes

But do you seriously think many people trust the BBC for unbiased reporting any more, especially when the organisation is subsidised by millions of pounds of public funding and has a captive audience visa the licence fee, and when The Guardian is virtually the in-house journal for senior executives pandering to the Left?

hatty hemmingreply
March 25, 2015 at 7:34 pm

“why Hacked Off are not interested in pursuing claims that lawyers, councils and big multinational companies have been involved”

I’m no journalist but I think the clue might be in “the campaign for a free and accountable PRESS”

March 25, 2015 at 8:02 pm

Talking of hypocrisy Roy, you don’t seem to mind writing for the paper you appear to despise…
Of course, it is your favoured subject – the “one rogue reporter”, Greatest Newspaper Ever Sold, the multi-Vodaphone-award winning News of the Screws… A delightful and informative piece by the way.

But going back to your question – hopefully whistleblowers *will* continue to go with the journalists they have always trusted the most… the local journalists. Oh, and perhaps those who don’t “buy” their stories.
Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always found a story feels so much more worthwhile, honest and well – let’s just say it – ethical, when I’ve done it without paying someone. That’s the thing about trust, as most tyrants eventually learn – you can’t buy it, you earn it.
Sadly, it would appear some newspaper publishers will have a problem about trust in the future. Especially the ones that handed over all the incriminating material to police so small fry journalists ended up in the dock and not them… or their sons… or their favoured employees.
Trust, eh Roy?
One thing I do know, throughout all my time as a reporter I knew that people who went to work at NOTW and other nationals tabloids did so because they were prepared to do anything and everything they were told. That was kind of the rule. If you weren’t prepared to, then you wouldn’t last a second there. Fair play, they were rewarded well for it. But the point Roy is that just because you have to do “anything and everything” to reach those dizzying heights of “national reporter”, does it mean you should? Those who have indulged in activities which have brought embarrassment and shame to the trade have left all reporters who did not – and there’s a lot of us – a little less trusted, and undeservedly so. I don’t blame Nick Davies for uncovering these questionable acts, I don’t blame the police or the MPs. I blame the people who condoned it, ordered it and profited from it. And by God did they profit from it Roy.
And if you still don’t understand, perhaps we should forward you the voice messages of a little dead girl to listen to, just like your workmates did…

Shahid Khanreply
March 25, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Dear Roy,

The Guardian or Grauniad does not support the prosecution of Sun journalists, if you bothered to read their editorial you would see that.


John Cartmellreply
March 25, 2015 at 10:53 pm

As you are aware I know you and your writing – better for what you have produced on genealogy in retirement than in your tabloid days. I disregard your tabloid production as ‘done under instruction’ but this current rant is clearly from the heart. The trouble is that it is totally at odds with what you produce as a genealogist. You are personally inconsistent with yourself. As a fellow genealogist I know that we both value evidence, reject pre-formed bias, and shudder at those who accept and publish obvious mistakes. We both shake our heads at mythical trees on Ancestry where the same woman has a dozen husbands and produces kids every three or four months into her sixties. But somehow you have managed to become the pariah that produces such rubbish and ignore clear evidence, are certain that black is white, and are being laughed at for your inability to see what you have become.
Take stock. Note that the BBC bias (politically) is to the right rather than the left. Accept that the Guardian has influence beyond its readership because it actually does journalism. Realise that your gut instinct has misled you and it’s time to prune that fictitious tree that you have built for yourself.

Roy Stockdillreply
March 26, 2015 at 9:59 pm

Not quite sure who I am supposed to be replying to here (!) but a few points may be relevant…..

1) I worked for the News of the World for 30 years, starting even before Murdoch took it over, in various capacities, a travelling reporter for 10 years working in the UK, Europe and America, covering countless stories, getting several conmen and crooks sent to jail, and was never once sued for libel; a commissioning features executive supervising other writers and freelances, in the course of which I fixed up many interviews and photo-shoots with showbiz celebrities and came to know their arrogance and pompous self publicity-seeking demands, invading their own privacy when it suited them to further their careers; my final 10 years on the paper was as serialisations editor, buying celebrity memoirs for which I spent a great deal of Murdoch’s money, which gave me no end of pleasure! I had a bigger budget than any paper except the Daily Mail and frequently paid six-figure sums to publishers, I also did all the sub-editing and adaptations myself and was often spoken of as the “best in the business”.

2) I retired in 1997, well before the hacking allegations occurred. I took early retirement in my late 50s because Mr Murdoch had enabled me to build up a reasonable pension, supplemented with my own additional voluntary contributions. I hated the move to Wapping but had little choice in the matter, as did the vast majority of staff. In previous years in Bouverie Street I was the FoC (Father of Chapel) of the NUJ, the union to which I had belonged – and of which I am a Life Member – since I joined straight from grammar school as a junior reporter on the Halifax Courier in 1956.

3) I embarked on a second career as a genealogist, which John Cartmell knows about and he also knows I am a well respected figure in the genre, writing blogs and family trees about celebrities – an aspect that interests me far more than who they are sleeping with!

4) Yes, I once wrote an article for The Guardian when the NotW was closed down because the “Grauniad” asked me to, my having co-edited a HarperCollins paperback on the News of the World’s history to mark its 150th anniversary in 1993. I wrote the piece from the heart and never asked for payment for it. I happened to believe the News of the World was a great newspaper that many politicians, including Winston Churchill, and Archbishops of Canterbury wrote for, and had a circulation at its peak in the 1940s and 1950s of EIGHT million. I assume those who are behind HACKED OFF are far too young and ignorant of history to know this.

5) I regret not a single moment of my 45 years in newspapers, 30 of them in Fleet Street with the News of the World. I never in my entire career wrote a story which I knew to be dishonest and I was never once sued by anyone I wrote about, famous or otherwise.

6) I knew a great many tabloid journalists in my 30 years on the NotW, also at the Sun, Mirror, Mail, Express, etc, and some of us are still regularly in touch via social media. Without exception, I know them all to be honest, scrupulous and bloody hard-working men and women who are appalled and angry at the attacks on their professional integrity by the sanctimonious, self righteous and unprofessional luvvies of Hacked Off, many of whom have never worked in the business but who wish to muzzle a free press.

James dolemanreply
March 27, 2015 at 7:41 pm

Hello Roy

I, obviously, work in the business and have taken the time to attend the relevent trials and listen closely to the evidence.

The point of this piece, which I note you have not commented on, has been the tragedy of the sources used by the Sun who were promised lifetime anonymity and yet were betrayed by, not the Guardian, not the BBC, but your former employers.

Have you any comment on that

Roy Stockdillreply
March 27, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Yes, I read your piece, but you seem to be on the side of the police, CPS and the Establishment and to be opposed to whistle blowers who ought to be protected. However, I agree that the charges should have been against a corporate company and not individual journalists, most of whom I suspect you have never met and whose work you do not know or respect.

James dolemanreply
March 28, 2015 at 12:00 am

Hello Roy

Thanks for the feedback, although I am surprised at your concusions

All the best


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