Sun journalist 'paid for budget details'

Old Bailey
Image caption Prosecutors claim Clodagh Hartley paid a press officer £17,000 for stories

A journalist at the Sun newspaper paid a government press officer £750 to leak secrets from the Budget, a jury at the Old Bailey has been told.

Clodagh Hartley is accused of paying Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) official Jonathan Hall around £17,000 for tip-offs over three years.

One involved a tip that allowed the paper to run a story on Alistair Darling's Budget in 2010 before he delivered it, prosecutors claimed.

Miss Hartley denies all charges.

'Guarded secret'

Prosecutor Zoe Johnson QC said: "As you would expect, the details of the Budget are a closely-guarded secret.

"You would expect the details would be announced to Parliament and not broadcast in advance in the newspapers and certainly not for money, for personal gain."

She said a financial trail revealed Mr Hall was paid £750 for the story at the request of Miss Hartley.

Prosecutors said Mr Hall gave Miss Hartley, the Sun's Whitehall editor, information that led to the double-page story that was printed before Mr Darling stood to deliver the Budget.

Prosecutors also said Mr Hall was paid £500 for another story about celebrities being paid to publicise a government website.

'Not whistleblowing'

The court was told more than £4,000 was paid to Mr Hall by News International between April 2008 and May 2010.

More than £13,000 was also transferred to his girlfriend Marta Bukarewicz's account between June 2010 and July 2011 after Miss Hartley suggested it would "cover his tracks", the court heard.

Ms Bukarewicz kept £845 for her role and transferred the rest to Mr Hall, the court was told.

The jury was told Mr Hall accepts he supplied Miss Hartley with stories for which he was paid.

The prosecutor also told jurors: "This is not a trial involving whistle-blowing in a noble cause.

"It is a case in which Mr Hall, the HMRC press officer, was motivated by greed and Miss Hartley, the journalist, was motivated by acquiring the next big scoop or exclusive.

"Many of you will have sympathy for journalists who expose mismanagement and inefficiency in government departments but that is not what this case is about."

Ms Bukarewicz and Miss Hartley both deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.