Operation Elveden: Sun reporter goes on trial

Scotland Yard Image copyright Reuters

The Sun newspaper's crime reporter was involved in a "corrupt relationship" with a counter-terrorism police officer, the Old Bailey has heard.

Pc Timothy Edwards sold 38 stories and pieces of information to Anthony France over three years and was paid more than £20,000, the jury was told.

Mr France, 41, from Watford, denies aiding and abetting a police officer to commit misconduct in public office.

The trial is part of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Elveden.

The operation is investigating alleged illegal payments to police and officials.

'Abuse of power'

Zoe Johnson QC, prosecuting, said Mr Edwards, 49, an officer in the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command based at Heathrow Airport, accessed police computer systems and passed on details of "both the victims and perpetrators of crime".

She told the court: "This is not a case of whistle-blowing in a noble cause."

Ms Johnson described Pc Edwards' conduct as an "abuse of power" and asked: "If you were a victim of crime would you expect a police officer to sell your name and address to The Sun?"

Ms Johnson told jurors to "brace" themselves before reading out the first headline of one of the stories allegedly sold by Pc Edwards: "Sexual Healing - BA man quits over squelchy stilettos fetish."

The story, published in July 2008, concerned a BA engineer who was caught on CCTV at Heathrow Airport parading up a makeshift catwalk in high heels, the court heard.

Ms Johnson told the jury that Pc Edwards committed a "grievous abuse" of his power in looking up details of the incident even though no charges were made against the BA employee.

He was paid £850 for the story, she said.

'Very distressed'

In March 2010, Mr France wrote a front page story under the headline, "Heathrow Sex Scandal - Scanner Glamour Ding Dong".

Pc Edwards was allegedly paid £1,200 for the story about a member of airport staff abusing his access to new body scanners to "ogle" a female colleague's breasts.

The victim reported the incident to police at Heathrow and days later Pc Edwards read the crime report containing the victim's personal details and her address, the court heard.

One of the journalist's colleagues later called on the victim at home and Ms Johnson said the woman had been "very distressed".

Jurors were told the story turned out to be inaccurate and the Sun printed an apology, also accepting it was an invasion of the victim's privacy.

Mr France is accused of aiding and abetting Pc Edwards to commit misconduct in a public office between March 2008 and July 2011.

The trial continues.