The MoS published a story last month based on the transcript of secret tapes made by Melissa Jacobs, his former private secretary, in which he alleged that football officials in Spain and Russia were planning to bribe referees.
Speaking on the Media Show on Radio 4 yesterday NoW managing editor Bill Akass said: “We in fact had that story and we decided not to run it. We were not satisfied that it was justified and we felt the information was thin.
“It did not meet the tests which we set ourselves for justificationâ€¦Is it in the public interest? Are we operating within the law? Are we operating within the PCC code? Do we have credible information to suggest that this person is already engaged in these activities?”
Akass was on the Media Show to defend the paper after criticism from the trial judge in the case of the father of England footballer John Terry, who was convicted of drug dealing after selling cocaine to an undercover reporter for the NoW.
Judge Christopher Mitchell said: “It is a very, very clear case of entrapment solely to create a newspaper story.”
But Akass insisted that subterfuge in this case was in the public interest.
He said: ‘The public interest is in exposing a drug dealer, the CPS who investigated clearly felt it was in the public interest as they prosecuted, the police felt it was in the public interest and Ted Terry himself pleaded guiltyâ€¦We make no apology for exposing a drug dealer.”
Insisting that it was wrong to suggest that the crime would not had happened had it not been for the actions of the NoW, Akass said: ‘We acted on information received. In this case we received information from different sources early on which indicated he was engaged in this sort of activity.
‘In fact we didn’t investigated the first tip because we felt it was very thin, only when we had subsequent corroborating information that we decided to go ahead. This wasn’t a fishing expedition, we simply wouldn’t want to do that and don’t have the resources to do that.”
Saying that reporter Dan Sanderson may have been visiting the bar for longer than six weeks as part of the investigation, Akass said: ‘We were very diligent in ensuring that we didn’t at any stage instigate the drug dealingâ€¦
‘The transcripts will show that at no point did we ask him for drugs. He volunteered the drugs and sourced the drugs, we were very careful to ensure that we didn’t entice him to do so.”
Responding to the criticism of the NoW made by the judge in the case he said: ‘The judge has listened to his defence lawyer’s mitigation rather than the details of our transcripts. This is a case of shooting the messenger.”