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March 23, 2015

Former News of the World royal reporter Ryan Sabey is third journalist convicted over payments

By PA Mediapoint

A former News of the World royal reporter from east London has been convicted of using a soldier in Prince Harry's regiment as a paid tipster, it can now be reported.

Ryan Sabey, 34, of Bethnal Green, was on trial at the Old Bailey accused over payments made to Paul Brunt, 32, by the now-defunct Sunday tabloid.

The jury found Brunt, of Kentish Town, guilty by a majority on two counts of committing misconduct in a public office through his dealings with the News of the World and The Sun.

Sabey was convicted last month of aiding and abetting Brunt, making him the second journalist to be found guilty of an offence resulted from the Metropolitan Police high-profile multimillion-pound investigation.

Judge Charles Wide continued the defendants' bail and adjourned sentencing until 27 March for reports to be prepared.

The court was told that Brunt was paid more than £16,000 to provide information and pictures about Harry to the Sun and the NoW over an 18-month period in 2006 and 2007.

He was paid for information, pictures and tip-offs that led to stories being published and received more money simply to "keep him sweet" as a valuable contact.

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He got £5,000 for a picture which resulted in a 2006 story in the NoW entitled Swastika Shame Of Harry's Regiment, and also provided info about the royal's deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

News International's own accounting records showed the payments being made, with £9,450 from the NoW and £7,200 from The Sun, the court heard.

According to the prosecution, Sabey sent an email in which he described Brunt as "an extremely important contact" and requested cash payments be made to him, including £1,500 for a story about Prince Harry prior to deployment.

For the Crown, Julian Christopher said he "knew full well" that Brunt was not allowed to release information to the press.

But in his defence, Sabey told the court that he considered Brunt to be a "whistleblower" who wanted to expose impropriety or wrongdoing.

He told jurors that he was first given Brunt's contact details by his newsdesk and went on to have regular contact with him.

Out of seven NoW payments made to the soldier, only two were related to specific stories while others were for "good will", the court heard.

Defending, Orlando Pownall QC asked him: "Do you accept ignorance of the law is not a defence?"

Sabey said: "Yes."

Pownall went on: "But in doing what you did, did you consider that right-minded individuals such as this jury would think you were aiding and abetting misconduct in a public officer?"

The defendant replied: "No."

Brunt denied misconduct in a public office and Sabey denied aiding and abetting Brunt to commit misconduct in a public office in relation to the NoW.

Last year, a NoW reporter, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted over payments to a prison officer who leaked details of Jon Venables' life behind bars.

Former Sunday Mirror journalist Dan Evans was also convicted of making illegal payments when he admitted the offence last year.

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