Sun's Nick Parker alleged to have paid policeman for details of Ronnie Wood assault on girlfriend - Press Gazette

Sun's Nick Parker alleged to have paid policeman for details of Ronnie Wood assault on girlfriend

Ronnie Wood's Russian lover sold her story after he burned her with a cigarette, dragged her across the pavement and choked her in the street, the Old Bailey heard.

Nick Parker, 53, a senior Sun reporter, allegedly paid Surrey police officer Alan Tierney, 42, for information about the attack outside a restaurant in Claygate High Street, Surrey.

Parker, chief foreign correspondent at The Sun, also paid Tierney  for details on former England captain John Terry's mum going on a £1,400 shoplifting spree in Weybridge.

Trevor Burke QC, defending Parker, said The Sun was highlighting preferential treatment the police were giving to the "rich and famous" after both women and Rolling Stones guitarist Wood (pictured: Reuters) were given cautions for the offences.

"Mr Wood in a public restaurant in a public street observed by members of the public violently assaulted a young woman," Burke said.

He added that the witnesses to the Wood assault contacted the papers and sold their story to the Daily Mail after being offered £20,000 by the News of the World.

Burke also told the jury that Wood's victim and ex-partner Ekaterina Ivanova went to various papers and Hello magazine after he was cautioned for the attack.

Eye-witness Phillip Legge told police at the time that he heard Ivanova shouting "leave me alone" outside his house.

"I saw a female sitting on the doorstep of an empty shop, she was slouching on the step," he continued.

"The male was standing over the woman, he had a cigarette in his hand and was pointing it at her.

"He was swearing and shouting abuse at her.

"The female kept saying 'leave me alone'.

"I saw the male lean forward and touch the female on the top of her head with the cigarette and she shouted 'ow'.

"He said 'I will take your bag away from you so you can't go anywhere' then grabbed the bag and started pulling the female along the pavement.

"She was saying 'get off me' and was crying."

Legge said he went outside while his wife called the police.

He added: "The female was against a ledge or fence with his arms against her chest.

"I became quite concerned for her safety and went to see how long the police would be.

"When I went back outside the female was lying on the floor and heard the male say 'I got you a taxi'.

"He was dragging her along the pavement.

"I could see the female choking and gagging.

"The male was holding the collar of her coat which was tight around her neck."

Legge brought Ivanova inside and she said she did not want the police involved.

When officers spoke to her she said she argued with her boyfriend "all the time" and refused to make a statement.

Wood accepted a caution for common assault in relation to the incident.

Burke told the court that Susan Terry and Susan Poole were also only cautioned after going on a £1,458 shoplifting spree in Tesco and M&S.

Parker phoned the Surrey police press office asking for confirmation of the facts around the incident the day before Tierney contacted the paper, the court was told.

"The Sun phoned on 26 March 2009 at 4.19pm, it was the defendant Nicholas Parker who was making the call and leaving his contact details," Burke said.

"He said 'I understand two people were arrested yesterday afternoon after taking items from M&S and Tesco or possibly both. We understand that they put goods in the trolley worth around £800 or £900 and left without paying. I would like some guidance on whether the two people were Susan Terry and Susan Poole and a rough guide to the value of the items taken nd what was taken."

"Is that a reasonable request?"

Burke continued: "Mr Tierney doesn't contact the newspaper until 27 March the following day.

"This is the day before Mr Tierney makes any contact with the newspaper."

He said that Parker was looking for an explanation about why the women had only been cautioned instead of prosecuted through the courts for the offences.

"You can see the build up of questions Parker is asking 'please justify the decision to caution these people for £800 or £900 of stolen goods'," Burke added.

"That's the query the press are making and they are told there are guidelines and rich and poor are treated the same way."

He added that the national police guidelines state that shoplifting offences of £200 or over should usually be dealt with by prosecution rather than a caution.

Burke continued: "The Sun researched other shoplifting cases in the courts at this time and said the two women had been treated particularly leniently by Surrey Police.

"There is criticism of giving a caution in that case instead of prosecuting them."

He added: "Nine months later Wood is cautioned for an assault in the street.

"We have two cases in Surrey nine months apart one for theft of what some may think is a substantial amount of money and one for an offence of violence in the street.

"There are two common themes – those accused are famous and rich and both are offences committed in Surrey and both are cautioned."

Jeremy Kirkby, former assistant chief constable of Surrey Police, said that each case is different and that he would have considered cautioning the women if they had "admitted guilt and shown remorse".

The retired officer continued that a constable selling information to the press was "disgusting" and undermined public trust in the force.

Kirkby added: "Policing in this country relies on the cooperation and support of members of the public.

"If they think that we cannot be trusted to deal with that information in a confidential, sensitive and proper fashion then the fundamental trust of the public and confidence in police and working with us is undermined.

"And that can have quite a dramatic effect on people's willingness to report crime as a victim, to support investigations as a witness and just act to help us prevent crime occurring."

He continued: "Leaking information is bad enough, leaking it for money aggravates it.

"It's disgraceful, totally unacceptable and breaches everything that police officers stand for in our job.

"Victims and witnesses have rights but so do suspects."

Terry went to the Press Complaints Commission about coverage of the incident involving his mother but his complaint was not upheld, the court was told.

Parker is also accused of paying prison guard Lee Brockhouse, 44, for details from inside HMP Swaleside in Kent.

The journalist is also said to have accessed texts and emails on MP Siobhain McDonagh's mobile after it was stolen from her car.

Ms McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden in south London, was a whip in Gordon Brown's government.

Michael Ankers, 30, is accused of stealing her mobile phone from her car in October 2010 but claims he found it on a London Underground train.

Ankers handed the mobile in to the police on 20 October after Parker had spent six hours going through the messages on it, the court was told.

Jurors were read a transcript of a phone call between him and Parker when they talked about 'doing the right thing' and handing the mobile in.

The journalist asked Ankers what he had done with the SIM card and he replied: "Obviously I threw it away straight away".

Ankers said he wanted to give the phone to his niece for Christmas but claimed his "conscience got the better of me".

Prosecutor Michel Parroy QC asked: "Was it the fact that his conscience got the better of him or that he wanted to get some money out of it?"

Parker said during the call: "We want to make sure we do the right thing here because it's now clear it belongs to this MP."

Tierney previously admitted misconduct in public office in relation to his dealings with The Sun and has now left the force, the court was told.

Parker, of Queen's Road, Twickenham, denies three counts of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office between March 2009 and December 2009, handling stolen goods and securing unauthorised access to computer material.

Brockhouse, of Claxfield Road, Sittingbourne, Kent, denies two counts of misconduct in a public office between February 2007 and October 2009.

Ankers, from southwest London, denies theft and an alternative count of handling stolen goods.

The trial continues. 



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