Sun journalist in court over payments to George Michael prison officer
A Sun journalist has gone on trial over allegations that a prison officer was paid for tips about George Michael while he was behind bars.
The gay singer served half of an eight-week sentence at HMP Pentonville in north London and Highpoint Prison in Suffolk four-and-a-half years ago after crashing his car into a shop while high on cannabis.
Sun news editor Brandon Malinsky is on trial at the Old Bailey charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office between September 2010 and March 2011.
The Press Association reports as night news editor, Malinsky exchanged emails with reporter and co-defendant Neil Millard about a contact at Pentonville Prison where Michael was being held, the court heard.
Malinsky, from north London, denied having direct dealings with the officer, Reggie Nunkoo, or having anything to do with authorising cash payments of hundreds of pounds to him.
He told jurors that during his legal training, the issue of public officials never arose and he was never given any guidance at The Sun about who could be paid.
But he said he would not consider it right to pay a police officer for a story because they were involved in the criminal justice system.
Prosecutor Stuart Biggs suggested he might have spoken to a prison officer during his career. He asked: “You would not think there was anything wrong with that?”
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Malinsky replied: “Speaking to a prison officer? I would not think that at the time. You would use your own moral compass to decide who you should or shouldn’t speak to. Personally, I would not have dealt with a police officer.”
He added: “There was no training. You based it on your own moral guidance.”
The witness said he would have “barely glanced” at Millard’s subsequent email about what to pay the prison source who had told him that Michael had burst into tears in his cell.
Malinsky and Millard deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
The trial continues.
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