'Is it important that Jon Venables likes Harry Potter?' Prosecution accuses prison officer of leaking 'drivel' - Press Gazette

'Is it important that Jon Venables likes Harry Potter?' Prosecution accuses prison officer of leaking 'drivel'

A prison officer from Corby was challenged in court about whether he felt a "tweak of conscience" about making thousands of pounds from tabloid newspapers in exchange for "drivel" about James Bulger's killer Jon Venables.

Scott Chapman, 42, was allegedly paid £40,000 for a string of stories about the child killer's time behind bars after he was jailed for child porn offences in 2010.

He was paid twice the going rate for a page lead by The Sun but insisted he initially only contacted the newspaper because he felt Venables was being treated as a special case, the Old Bailey heard.

He told jurors he later fed stories to journalists from other newspapers, including Tom Savage from the Daily Star Sunday, and a News of the World reporter, who cannot be named.

Chapman, who was dismissed from the prison in 2011, said he spent the money on taking his family on holidays, including a trip to Orlando, Florida.

Under cross examination, prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC pointed out to Chapman there were various text messages to a Sun reporter asking about money.

He said: "It is my suggestion this was all about the money from the early stages."

Chapman conceded: "At the end of this time, I hold my hands up."

Rees asked: "At any stage did you have a tweak of conscience – 'this is not right, I'm being paid all this money for all this drivel in the papers?'"

The defendant replied: "I cannot recall. There was a lot going on in my life."

The lawyer went on: "A lot of information you provided was nothing more than tittle tattle, do you agree? Is it important that Jon Venables likes Harry Potter?"

Chapman said: "Everybody should get treated the same in prison, regardless."

Rees pressed him repeatedly about the effect these leaks had on the operation of the prison and whether fellow inmates would put "two and two together" and work out Venables was there.

He said: "Did it not occur to you that to people in the know, if they understood there was a leak at the prison, then they would not think it was fit for purpose to place any high profile prisoners?"

Chapman replied: "No."

Chapman, and his ex-partner Lynn Gaffney, 40, of Corby, Northamptonshire, deny misconduct in a public office.

Savage, 37, of south London, and the News Of The World journalist, deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.



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