Former police officer jailed for selling celebrity info to Sun

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 20:59

London: A former UK police officer who had access to private information about celebrities, including Kate Middleton, has been jailed for two years for selling stories about them to the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun tabloid.

Paul Flattley had been in the force barely a year when he started the "sustained" provision of confidential information to the News International paper, which earned him a total of 7,600 pounds, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The officer, who was on the Met`s rapid response team in Kensington and Chelsea, was imprisoned in March after he pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office but for legal reasons his crime could not be reported until now.

Over three years from 2008 he contacted the paper 39 times, although the court heard that not all communication resulted in an article.

Flattley established a mutually beneficial relationship with Sun journalist Virginia Wheeler, emailing or texting about incidents almost immediately after they had happened or helping answer the paper`s questions about royals or celebrities in the borough.

For a good tip-off, he could earn 750 pounds, the paper`s report said.

His jailing could be reported for the first time today after the Crown Prosecution Service announced that it had decided to drop charges against Wheeler on medical grounds.

Sentencing Flattley in March, Justice Fulford said Flattley did not care what effect his activities would have on the individuals whose privacy he invaded and that he was "simply motivated by personal profit from the sale of what he, no doubt, believed was a good story".

In his defence, Flattley`s barrister told the court that the information he had passed on was "fairly low order" information and that he had offered to give evidence for the prosecution for the trial of the journalist.

He said Flattley, who was awarded the baton of honour for being the outstanding officer of his intake, was full of "shame and regret" and he wished to apologise to those whose personal details he had passed on.

Flattley, who joined the force in 2005, was regularly called to incidents involving high profile stars, footballers, politicians and protesters, ranging from minor traffic misdemeanours.

He went on to sell stories about Zara Phillips, politician Ann Widdecombe, footballer Jack Wilshere, Tetra Pak heir Hans Rausing and others who either called emergency services or were involved in incidents in the west London borough.

One day when he was off duty, the paper phoned to see if he could confirm rumours that the Duchess of Cambridge was engaged to Prince William. He phoned his former sergeant, then on Middleton`s protection team, to ask if they knew of a pending royal engagement.

In addition he texted the reporter to say he would "get one of our lads to do a few passes by her place" that day to "see if there were any extra old bill" on duty, which might indicate an imminent announcement.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 20:59

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