Broadmoor nurse jailed for two years after being paid £24,000 for stories by News of the World and Mirror - Press Gazette

Broadmoor nurse jailed for two years after being paid £24,000 for stories by News of the World and Mirror

A mental health nurse at Broadmoor high security hospital has been jailed for two years for selling stories about some of Britain's most notorious killers to the News of the World and Mirror newspapers.

Kenneth Hall, 49, sold a string of stories to the tabloids, including tales about Robert Ashman, who attacked an MP and killed his assistant with a samurai sword.

Andrew Pennington died after he was stabbed six times as he tried to protect Liberal Democrat Nigel Jones in his constituency office in January 2000.

Hall also sold stories about killers suing the NHS, and forged documents to beef up his tales, London's Old Bailey heard.

As well as working as a mental health nurse at the hospital which houses some of Britain's most dangerous serial killers, Hall was responsible for some of the security at the institution.

He pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office between 29 June 2002 and 6 October 2004 and one count of forgery.

The Old Bailey heard how Hall first sold stories to a freelance reporter who often worked for the News of the World called Anna Gekoski.

He later also made contact with a reporter at the Mirror.

He used his privileged position as a nurse to disclose confidential information to newspapers, making thousands of pounds for himself.

Prosecutor Stuart Biggs said Hall had knowingly breached his work code of conduct which expressly stated that he was not to disclose information about patients to the media.

He added: "Mr Hall knew from the outset that what he was doing was a serious matter, and was in direct breach of the short code of conduct."

When arrested, Hall accepted he had forged a number of documents, saying: "You just fabricate, make it up, do a letter – they can't go to Broadmoor and verify it, can they?"

Biggs said: "He explained that the desire for money was coupled with his frustration at the way in which Broadmoor 'mollycoddled murderers, rapists and paedophiles'.

"The paper was duped to an extent – great extent, the people referred to are of course done a disservice, the institution is done a great disservice, and the public who were forced to receive information that is entirely false information, the journalist taking it on its face [value] because it appeared to come from a source within the institution itself," he continued.

The court also heard how Hall "was both providing care and treatment to patients with mental health illnesses and personality disorders" when he sold the stories.

Sentencing him, Judge Timothy Pontius said there had been a "grave" breach of trust, adding: "The trust not only of the public, but of course that of the patients themselves, many of them suffering from extremely serious mental illness which led to their detention in hospital for very many year many years."

He added that although that in itself would have constituted "an appalling offence of its kind that could be imagined", it was made worse by the fact that his offending continued after he left the hospital.

Judge Pontius continued that although the some of the patients had committed the gravest of crimes that gained notoriety in the public, they were still entitled to professional care and a respect for their privacy.

He said that Hall could not viably justify what he did by claiming it was "altruistic whistleblowing", because his offending continued after his employment ended.

One story about Ashman read "Samurai nut could be free in 18 months" and was written by Gekoski, the court was told.

Biggs said investigators found emails between Gekoski and Hall dating to 19 September 2003 with the subject heading "Ashman".

Attached were documents forged by Hall claiming to be patient notes relating to Ashman, and some genuine notes.

In the email Hall wrote: "Hope it goes in as a lot of work went into getting copies of those."

Hall resorted to faking documents when he could not smuggle the originals out of the hospital, but also smuggled out genuine documents relating to Ashman.

Biggs said: "In two different ways the public official abused his position.

"He had the credibility of the newspaper to create false documents, and he, on the rare occasions he was able, took out of the hospital a true document, with obvious sensitive and confidential information."

Another story had the headline "Sex killer sues NHS for £3 million".

The story went on: "Monster who attacked girl of 12 wants cash because Broadmoor inmates attacked him."

Biggs explained that the story related to a Broadmoor patient and quote a "source" at the hospital saying: "The hospital does not want this case to go to court so they will settle for an undisclosed amount.

"He has an enormous team of lawyers working on it. Once again he'll get a huge sum of money from manipulating the system".

But the quote had been made up by Hall, the prosecutor said.

The court heard that he made £23,800 from selling stories, continuing to feed his contacts fake stories even after he had stopped working at Broadmoor.

Hall's wife, Karen, who was also a nurse at Broadmoor, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the commissioning of the offence by allowing money she knew her husband got through the sale of stories, into her account.

Last month she was handed a five-month jail sentence suspended for one year.

The Halls, of Fairfax Road, Bridgwater, Somerset have three children, aged seven, 11 and 12.



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