A reporter at the now defunct News of the World was told to become a prison officer to obtain stories about notorious murderer Ian Huntley, a court heard today.
The claim came during the testimony of the newspaper's former deputy editor, Neil Wallis, 64, who is on trial on charges of conspiring to illegally intercept voicemails. Asked about staff at the News of the World, Wallis said that the 'number three' at the paper "tasked" a journalist to join the prison service to "get close to" the Soham murderer Huntley.
The reporter, who was not named in court, completed his prison officer training and ended up guarding Huntley in jail and passing information back to the News of the World.
Earlier the jury was read a statement from Wallis were he blamed his prosecution as "direct payback" for his high profile role in defending "press freedom". He also accused the main witness against him, Dan Evans, as a "self-confessed liar" who suffered from severe drug and alcohol addiction problems.
Testifying for the first time today, a visibly upset Wallis slumped against the side of the witness box when asked by his barrister Neil Saunders if he was divorcing his wife of 38 years, Gaye. After a long pause Mr Wallis replied: "Yes." He went on to blame his treatment at the hands of the police for the divorce as well his teenage son having a nervous breakdown and the break up of his daughter's relationship.
Wallis also said that he he had never had any dealings with convicted phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire or that he knew that News of the World reporter Clive Goodman was hacking the phones of members of the royal household. Figures shown to the court showed that between January 2005 and August 2006 telephones inside the papers Wapping offices accessed the voicemails of Prince William 104 times, Prince Harry 58 times and Kate Middleton 493 times.
Mr Wallis continues to deny all of the charges against him, the trial continues.