A woman accused of conspiring in the provision of unauthorised information to The Sun by a serving soldier for payment has told a court she never read the paper because “sport and lady parts is not my thing”.
Claire Hardy is accused of taking payments from News International on behalf her husband John, a former instructor at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, for information about Princes William and Harry who were cadets there. The defendant told the court that while she accepted money from News International was paid into her bank account she rarely looked at her statements as they were not “the most interesting reading material” and that she kept up to date with her account via telephone banking.
Mrs Hardy was also asked about a cash payment of £4,000 from News International she collected from Thomas Cook on behalf of her husband. She told the jury that John Hardy had a “gambling habit” and had told her he had won the money. She said she had not looked at paperwork that named News International as the source of the payment adding that the name would not have meant anything to her. The defendant said she had taken the money and handed it in to a shop called HM supplies to pay for 40 pairs of army boots her husband intended to sell to new cadets.
Pressed on why she asked no questions about the source of the money, Mrs Hardy replied “I’m not going to not trust my husband”.
The jury was later shown a page from a police officer’s notebook which reports an “unsolicited comment” from Mrs Hardy at the time of her arrest saying “I know the money from them went into my bank account”. Mrs Hardy told the court that she had said “I know he had done some work for the newspaper” in response to a police officer saying “you must have known we would have come knocking”. She explained that she meant night shift security work her husband did at the Daily Mail. Hardy also said it was not possible that three officers heard her make the comment as only one of them was in the room at the time.
Asked why she had agreed to sign the note in the officer’s note pad as accurate the defendant said she had been confused at the time of her arrest and this had been a mistake.
Standing trial alongside Claire Hardy and her husband are Sun royal editor Duncan Larcombe; deputy editor Geoffrey Webster; executive editor Fergus Shanahan and chief reporter John Kay. All are facing charges relating to a series of payments to John Hardy or a Ministry of Defence civil servant, Bettina Jordan-Barber.
Mrs Hardy is the last defendant to give evidence and closing argument is set to begin on Tuesday.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.