UK

Sandhurst worker sold stories on royal princes

  • 26 November 2013
  • From the section UK
Tracey Bell
Image caption Tracey Bell: Sold stories to tabloid newspaper

A pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst military college has been given a suspended sentence for selling stories about Princes William and Harry.

Tracey Bell passed information on the royal princes to a tabloid newspaper between 2005 and 2006.

The Old Bailey heard that she had received more than £1,000.

Mr Justice Saunders gave Bell, a mother of three young children, a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

The 35-year-old, now of Cooperative Street, Barnsley, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one charge of committing misconduct in a public office.

She had previously worked in the pharmacy at Sandhurst when the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry were training to be military officers.

The court heard that she had passed information about the princes to a newspaper in return for payment.

Mr Justice Saunders said: "Offences of misconduct in public office are always serious and the public are entitled to expect that those who hold a public office and are paid by the public will not abuse that trust by obtaining money from journalists.

"This is not a case where it could ever be said that there was a reasonable excuse for disclosure [of information into the public domain]. However offences of this kind do vary in severity.

"Tracey Bell did not hold a senior position at Sandhurst. The information that she supplied was relatively low-grade and its disclosure has not caused significant damage to any public interest.

"The amount of money that she obtained was small as compared to sums obtained by others. Despite that mitigation, in almost all circumstances an offence of misconduct in a public office will merit a sentence of immediate imprisonment."

However, the judge said he would suspend the sentence because of the lower level of the offence, her ill health and the needs of her young children.

Mr Justice Saunders also ordered Bell to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay almost £1,000 in costs. As she left the dock, she said "thank you" to the judge.