A senior Ministry of Defence civil servant who made over £100,000 selling stories to The Sun told other staff not to speak to the media a jury heard today. Bettina Jordan-Barber, who worked for the MOD’s secretariat, was responsible for producing briefings on newsworthy incidents in the army.
However, the prosecution allege, despite instructing other staff not to speak to the newspaper, Jordan-Barber was secretly in contact with a Sun journalist and passing on confidential information.
The revelation came during the fifth day of the trial of senior Sun journalists John Kay, Duncan Larcombe, Fergus Shanahan and Geoffrey Webster at London’s Old Bailey, where the jury was shown copies of “news brief” documents produced by the civil servant and the stories produced by the Sun as a result of the information she supplied.
In one brief, the prosecution say, Jordan Barber advised all MOD staff not to say anything about the private life of an army officer as this would breach his right to confidentiality, yet at the same time she was speaking to the Sun – leading to a story entitled “Mucky Major and his swinging Mrs”.
The civil servant also allegedly passed information on British military casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq allowing the newspaper to beat its rivals in publishing the names of those killed and wounded. The prosecution told the jury that Jordan-Barber had considerable access to confidential information and had “excellent relations with Clarence House and St James’s Palace”, the official residences of the Prince of Wales and the Queen
The jury have also been shown emails between reporter John Kay and the then Sun editor Rebekah Brooks where he asks for payments for his “ace military contact” which were quickly agreed by Brooks. The former editor was acquitted of charges relating to these payments in last year’s phone hacking trial after insisting she did not know that Kay’s source was a public official.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges. The trial continues.