UK

Ex-HMP Belmarsh prison officer explains reporter tip-off

An exterior view of Belmarsh high- security prison Image copyright Getty Images

A former prison officer tipped off a journalist about a chaplain having relationships with inmates because he believed it was being "swept under the carpet", a court has heard.

HMP Belmarsh officer Robert Norman, 54, was questioned about a £200 payment for a story about the chaplain.

He said he told reporter Stephen Moyes because he feared the chaplain would not be dealt with in the "correct" way.

Mr Norman denies one charge of misconduct in a public office.

He was allegedly paid more than £10,000 for tips between 30 April 2006 and 1 May 2011.

'Inappropriate behaviour'

Giving evidence in his defence, Mr Norman, of Swanscombe in Kent, denied being Mr Moyes's "man at Belmarsh" and insisted he wanted to highlight what was going on at the south London prison.

He agreed he gave Mr Moyes information about "inappropriate behaviour" by the Roman Catholic chaplain at the prison and the fact that he had been suspended.

Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC asked if that meant the prison had taken action and there was therefore no need to highlight the case in the press.

Mr Norman responded: "Not really, no. Swept under the carpet, it was going to be."

He told jurors that when he first spoke to Mr Moyes about it he believed the chaplain would not be dealt with "in the correct manner" and the authorities planned only to move him.

He said: "There's more to this than what you are reading here and I don't know how far I can go without the court saying it's hearsay."

The chaplain was sacked for "affairs with inmates", the court heard.

'Handy money'

When the barrister suggested he was making it up as he went along, Mr Norman replied: "I've got no reason to make things up.

"I've given a full and frank interview and I have been as honest as I can about this."

Mr Norman is alleged to have channelled cheques from newspapers through his son's bank account.

But he denied his son Daniel knew anything about his dealings with Mr Moyes, saying they never discussed where the money was coming from.

Mr Christopher asked: "You would not have said 'I'm making some handy money on the side from the Mirror'?"

Mr Norman replied: "No sir, I would not."

The trial continues.

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