Policeman accused of offering story to The Sun claims he was set up by colleagues - Press Gazette

Policeman accused of offering story to The Sun claims he was set up by colleagues

A former police constable accused of offering to sell a story to The Sun about a womanising sergeant named other colleagues as possible culprits after he was arrested, a court heard.

Darren Jennings (not pictured) is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of committing misconduct in a public office while he worked for Wiltshire Police in September 2010.

Using a false name, he emailed The Sun with claims that a colleague Sergeant Mark Andrews had a threesome with a male and a female officer and used excessive force against members of the public at Salisbury police station, the court heard.

The 41-year-old denied any wrongdoing when he was arrested in 2012 and told police he suspected others of passing on the "malicious information".

Among the names he suggested was Sgt Simon Stone, a friend of Sgt Andrews whose alleged sexual exploits were also detailed in the email, leading the interviewer to query: "Why do you think Sgt Stone would provide a story about himself?"

During the police interview read out in court, Jennings was asked if there were "quite a few people with an axe to grind" against him, and the defendant replied: "That's a fair assumption."

He explained the bad feeling towards him began after he became close to a female colleague who was to become his second wife Rachel.

To start with they just "provided each other with a shoulder to cry on" during the break-up of their marriages and categorically denied rumours of a work romance.

During that time, she had confided in him that Sgt Andrews made a pass at her and "she told him in no uncertain terms it was not going to happen", the court heard.

By 2009, they had both separated from their partners, and Jennings said: "It became common knowledge we were in a relationship and the general feeling from Mark Andrews was he was not happy."

He said others colleagues were unhappy about them working together. On one occasion Jennings needed assistance at a road traffic accident but his partner, who was nearest to the scene, was called off going to help.

After he complained, Jennings was told he would be posted away following ten reports against him, jurors were told.

He carried out his own investigations into the reports and launched an internal grievance, he said.

In his evidence from the witness box, Jennings said he felt he was treated differently at work after his relationship with his wife-to-be became known.

The father-of-two said: "To begin with everything was fine but gradually as time went on we did feel a distance, specifically to Mark Andrews."

He told the jury that at the time the email was sent to The Sun, both his laptops had been left in his work tray while he was on days off.

He explained a call to The Sun from his home phone by saying it was in response to a text message he assumed was about his sister, who has cystic fibrosis, and was in hospital at the time.

When he realised he was talking to The Sun, he told the journalist to contact the press office, he said.

Asked why he did not report the conversation, Jennings said: "Stupidity and tunnel vision with the complaint I was compiling."

Under cross examination, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow repeatedly asked the defendant who he thought might dislike him enough to go to such great lengths to incriminate him in a crime he did not commit.

Referring to people named in his police interviews, Glasgow asked if he thought it could be Sgt Andrews, or Sgt Stone, or another sergeant.

Jennings said that it "could be" one of them, before adding: "It could be anyone in the police force I have crossed swords with. I don't know."

Sgt Andrews was convicted at Oxford Magistrates' Court of assault occasioning actual bodily harm but that was later quashed on appeal, the Old Bailey trial heard.

Jennings, of Saffron Walden, Essex, denies the charge against him and the trial was adjourned until tomorrow.



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