By Martin Hickman
A Sun reporter accused of making illegal payments to public officials today admitted that he repeatedly lied about his dealings with a policeman and an NHS worker in his initial statement to the court.
Under cross-examination, Jamie Pyatt agreed that he had told deliberate untruths in his outline defence statement when he said that he had not paid a police officer for information for stories – when he had paid over £8,000 to a Surrey Police constable, Simon Quinn.
He also admitted he had been lying in the document when he stated there were other sources for stories he had received from a Broadmoor healthcare assistant, Robert Neave.
In his current defence to charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office, Mr Pyatt admits paying both officials but says the information they supplied was in the public interest.
Peter Wright QC, for the Crown, asked the Thames Valley reporter, why he had not mentioned on his arrest in November 2011, or to the police on two subsequent occasions, or to the court in his outline defence statement, that he had paid police.
Asked about first police interview on 4 November 2011: “Did you tell the truth?”, Mr Pyatt told the court: “I lied about not paying police officers.”
He went on: “I had a company lawyer there. I was extremely distressed and tired. I just said I didn’t pay police officers so I could go home.”
He added: “I told a lie to protect my sources.”
In a later police interview, Mr Pyatt forewent another opportunity to tell the police about the payments, Mr Wright complained.
At that interview Mr Pyatt’s News International-funded lawyer said: “Mr Pyatt will be providing a no comment interview due to the passage of time.”
Mr Wright pointed out that the reporter also did not take the opportunity to tell the police that he had been paying Pc Quinn on 31 January 2013 when he was bailed and returned to the police station.
The prosecutor read out the 13th paragraph of Mr Pyatt’s outline defence statement on 6 November 2013: “To be clear, Mr Pyatt never knowingly paid a serving police officer for information.”
Mr Wright said: “Just a lie, wasn’t it?”, to which the 51-year-old journalist replied: “Yes.”
Mr Wright continued: “And you had knowingly paid a serving police officer for information. And you had knowingly done that on a number of occasions?”
Mr Pyatt again replied: “Yes.”
In his initial defence statement, when he was maintaining that he had not paid Mr Neave, Mr Pyatt said that his Sun colleague Mike Sullivan was the source of the story about murderer Robert Knapper: ‘I killed Rachel Nickell.’
For another story, ‘Cannibal Pops Out For An OP’, Mr Pyatt said the information for the story came from a hospital source.
Mr Wright asked: “Were you lying?”
Mr Pyatt replied: “Yes.”
For another story, ‘Broadmoor Nurse in Romps with Patient’, Mr Pyatt’s initial defence statement read: “The information for this statement came from a large number of sources who contacted the newsdesk.”
Mr Wright asked Mr Pyatt: “Well, that was a lie wasn’t it?”
Mr Pyatt again replied: “Yes.”
He and five Sun colleagues deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office. The case continues.