Journalists on trial with prison officer over alleged payments for information on Jamie Bulger killer

By James Doleman |

October 16, 2014 | 3 min read

The trial of a former prison officer, his partner and two journalists for the sale of information about child murderer Jon Venables resumed today at London's Old Bailey.

The court has heard that guard Scott Chapman received over £40,000 from newspapers including the Sun, the News of the World, the People, the Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Star and the Sunday Daily Star for information about Venables.

On trial beside the former prison officer is Daily Star crime reporter Tom Savage and a journalist who worked for the now defunct News of the World who we cannot name for legal reasons.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told the jury: "At the core of this case are allegations that Scott Chapman abused his position as a prison officer by providing information about Jon Venables to newspapers. His motive was not to expose some perceived failings in the prison system, but plain, naked greed".

Venables, who was 11 years old when he was convicted of the murder of toddler Jamie Bulger, was imprisoned in 2010 on different charges and served two years in jail.

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Chapman originally contacted the Sun to complain that Venables was receiving special treatment in prison which was lowering staff morale. This led to a series of stories in the Sun about the alleged "cushy time" the murderer was receiving including claims that he had his own "private den" and access to a 36-inch screen TV and various board games.

Chapman, the prosecution alleges, then adopted a pseudonym "Adam" and contacted a number of newspapers who ran stories based in his information. Records show that the former prison officer was paid over £4,000 by the People £7,500 by the Sunday Mirror and £2,000 for articles published in the Daily Mirror.

On day two of the trial prosecutors called to the stand Adrian Scott, head of security at the National Offenders Management Service, who told the jury that publication of information about prison inmates could lead to "security and order issues" such as an increased risk of "self-harm or violence from other prisoners".

The trial is one of a number resulting from the Metropolitan Police's Operation Elevedon which is investigating journalistic payments to public officials. Another case is expected to begin today at Kingston Crown court involving reporters from the Sun.

All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.


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