A prison officer has admitted having a relationship with an inmate at the jail where she worked, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.
Melissa Priestley, 33, worked at HMP Low Newton, a women’s prison in Durham where serial killer Rose West is locked up.
An investigation was launched following a tip off and it uncovered Priestley was having a relationship with a prisoner.
A search of the prisoner’s cell led to the discovery of letters suggesting an inappropriate relationship with a staff member.
During the police investigation, messages found on Priestley’s phone appeared to corroborate this.
She appeared before Durham Crown Court and admitted misconduct in public office. She will be sentenced next month.
John Dilworth, of the CPS North East, said: “For people to have confidence in the Criminal Justice System, they need to know that the law applies equally to all of those involved in the delivery of justice.
“The relationship between Melissa Priestley and the prisoner, over whom she had a professional duty of care, was wholly inappropriate.
“I would like to praise the swift actions of the prison authorities and police, once the initial reports of this relationship were received.
“Through their diligence vital evidence was preserved, assisting greatly in the Crown’s preparation of a robust case against Melissa Priestley.”
An official at Durham Crown Court said Priestley was bailed following the hearing.
A police inspector who ordered back-up to take their time, went to the wrong address while colleagues made urgent calls for assistance during a fight at a pizza parlour, a misconduct panel has heard.
Inspector Jaswant Singh – left – told colleagues to “calm down” despite a police sergeant warning over the radio the scene was “going off like a bottle of pop” at Olivio’s in Stourbridge, West Midlands, last year.
However, a police constable said she was “shocked” when later told by fellow officers the inspector “had gone to the wrong pizza place and there was no sign of disorder”.
Pc Teresa Bird said two officers told her afterwards the inspector had turned up to another takeaway called Romino’s, further along the same street.
The officer said she had no evidence he failed to go to the right location, only the hearsay of colleagues.
A West Midlands Police panel in Birmingham today heard evidence Mr Singh allegedly breached professional standards by failing in his duties on the night, and then lying about what happened.
The allegations against Mr Singh record how he was the duty inspector for Dudley when trouble broke out at the pizzeria just before 2.30am on Sunday February 23.
The hearing was told that Sgt Mark Butler, at Olivio’s, said in a radio message: “I need officers down on the High Street, like yesterday, please.”
Asked where he was by Inspector Singh, he replied: “Straight to Olivio’s, it’s going off like a bottle of pop in here.”
Just minutes later, the inspector radioed back stating: “Yeah, I’m here now, things have calmed down so people can slow down, but still make, over.”
This prompted the sergeant to query: “Gaffer, have you just said people can slow down?”
He quickly added: “That’s a negative boss. I need them here and I need them now.”
At the time, Sgt Butler told the panel he and a colleague were in the eatery in a “very challenging” scene trying to split two groups of “heavy and muscular” men on the verge of fighting each other.
Moments earlier, two “grappling” men had been ejected from the pizza parlour by another officer, who was still tied up outside dealing with the pair.
It is alleged that Mr Singh was in no position to assess the situation on the ground at the time, when he made the call for other responding units to slow down.
When back-up did arrive, it is alleged the inspector who was by now outside the restaurant, “instructed them it was calm”.
Panel chairman assistant chief constable Carl Foulkes, reading out the allegation, said: “It was apparent it was not calm inside and that police sergeant Butler needed assistance, and they (the officers) went past you.”
It was further alleged: “By making a transmission that it was calm inside and to wait outside, you failed to carry out your duties and responsibilities diligently.”
The panel heard that shortly after back-up arrived, both groups – numbering about eight men in all, were thrown out and sent off in opposite directions.
One man was arrested and later given a fixed penalty fine.
Later, Pc Bird was asked about her statement, where she said Mr Singh had “tried to cancel back-up because he attended the wrong pizzeria”.
She replied: “Yes they (her colleagues) said he had gone to the wrong pizza place and there was no sign of disorder.”
Pc Bird added: “I was shocked, shocked that he hadn’t tried to find us to make sure that we didn’t need help.
“Surely officers would still be there and he would need to find out those officers were safe.
“If we weren’t in the pizza parlour then where were we? Injured somewhere?
“I was shocked that hadn’t been found out first before cancelling.”
She accepted this was something she had been told by others and not seen for herself.
Following the incident, after two meetings with a chief inspector to discuss what happened, it is alleged the inspector lied to the senior officer about the incident.
Inspector Singh denies all the allegations.
David Mason QC, counsel for Mr Singh, asked Sgt Butler about his initial recollection being wrong that the inspector had actually cancelled back-up.
He then asked: “What he (the inspector) is doing there is saying the heat has come out of the situation, people can slow down, otherwise in his opinion things have calmed down and other officers who might be rushing to the scene can take things a little more steadily?”
Sgt Butler replied: “By that transmission, yes.”
Later the sergeant added: “I can 100% say I did not see Inspector Singh in the premises.”
However, he later told the panel “there is a possibility” the senior officer was in Olivio’s, and that he just did not see him with everything else going on.
Pc Bird said she had seen the inspector enter along with back-up.
She later filled out a “near-miss report” about what happened, dealing with health and safety issues.
If the case against Mr Singh is found proven and is determined to amount the gross misconduct, he faces immediate dismissal from the force.
The panel is expected to hear more evidence from fellow officers on the scene that night and the hearing continues.
A corrupt prison officer from top security HMP Belmarsh has been found guilty of leaking stories about celebrity inmates to the Daily Mirror over six years.
Grant Pizzey, 50, made nearly £20,000 from the tabloid for tips about “notorious” prisoners including Great Train robber Ronnie Biggs, hate preacher Abu Hamza and serial killers Steve Wright and Levi Bellfield.
He also passed on information to journalist Greig Box Turnbull about life at the high security jail which resulted in stories about Easter eggs, a laptop for a terror suspect and higher prices in the prison canteen, the court heard.
Pizzey was on trial at the Old Bailey charged with misconduct in a public office, with his wife Desra Reilly, 48, who was accused of aiding and abetting him.
The couple, from Widecombe Road, Eltham, south east London, denied wrongdoing but were found guilty after the jury deliberated for eight hours and 40 minutes.
The pair shook their heads as the foreman of the jury delivered the majority verdicts.
Using Reilly as the go-between, Pizzey passed confidential information to Mr Box Turnbull between December 1 2005 and January 31 2012.
Reilly first contacted both The Sun and the Daily Mirror in December 2005 with a story about So Solid Crew rapper Dwayne Vincent, stage name Megaman, being found with a mobile phone after he was attacked in Belmarsh.
In a message to The Sun, she wrote: “I have information regarding a security lapse at Belmarsh. Anyone interested?”
Sun journalist James Clothier got back to her, only to be told that the Mirror had been first, the court heard.
Reilly told him that she did not know how much she would be paid by the Mirror and that it would depend on who she dealt with in future.
As well as the “exclusive” about Megaman, she handed over another tip to the Mirror about a smuggled pen gun security scare at Belmarsh, the court heard.
Mr Clothier responded by promising to “top any offer for stories, particularly from the Daily Mirror”, jurors were told.
But Reilly went on to receive cheques and transfers to her bank account from the Mirror on 47 separate occasions.
Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC said some were for stories while others were to keep the source “on side” and encourage more tips in the future.
The relationship developed to the point where Mr Box Turnbull could use Pizzey to confirm information he had heard elsewhere, such as whether James Bulger killer Jon Venables was at Belmarsh.
Pizzey, who worked as a prison officer at Belmarsh in south east London from 2000, knew he was not allowed to speak to the press, which is why he used Reilly, a railway cafe worker, as the contact.
When the couple were arrested in July 2012, they declined to answer questions in police interview.
The case hinged on whether or not Reilly alone had made money by passing on information she picked up from “casual conversations” with her partner.
Giving evidence, Reilly told jurors that she kept her contact with Mr Box Turnbull a secret from Pizzey after he “poo-pooed” the idea of going to the press.
She said that Pizzey would regularly “let off steam” and regale her with stories about the famous inmates.
The mother-of-four regarded Mr Box Turnbull as a friend who was genuinely interested in her life, but conceded: “Obviously he was just trying to get more information out of me in the end.”
Seeing her stories printed in the Mirror gave the waitress “excitement”.
She said: “When I got the first money, it was like a little bit extra for a couple of sentences and I thought there cannot be much wrong in doing that. It was something on the side. It was excitement in my life that I had never had before.”
Judge Richard Marks refused the couple bail and remanded them in custody until sentencing next Friday.
Afterwards, Detective Superintendent Larry Smith, from Operation Elveden, said: “When public officials behave in this way, they breach the trust and confidence placed in them by the public to act with honesty and integrity.
“In this case the evidence presented to the court showed that Pizzey was aware that in his role as a prisoner officer, selling confidential information obtained in the course of his duties was wrong.
“Using Reilly, he attempted to mitigate this by appointing her as the go-between. Their actions damaged the public trust and merit criminal sanction.”
A former prison officer from north London could be locked up behind bars for selling story tips to the Daily Mirror.
Joseph De Souza, 51, sold a string of tips about the treatment of Tracey Connelly to the Daily Mirror after she was jailed for the death of her infant son, Peter.
His leaks resulted in four published articles. He received £950 over more than two years while he worked at the prison, for adult women inmates and young offenders.
De Souza, who now works as a bus driver, pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office between March 2007 and June 2009 at an Old Bailey hearing yesterday.
Judge Timothy Pontius adjourned the case and warned De Souza, of Manger Road, Holloway, that he may face jail when he returns for a sentencing hearing on October 9.
He said: “Plainly, given the nature and seriousness of the offence, the court must consider among various options a prison sentence.”
De Souza was identified when Mirror bosses, having conducted an internal review, handed over evidence to the police.
His contact at the paper, Victoria Ward, was interviewed under caution about the payments, but was told by police she would face no further action.
De Souza is the latest public official to be convicted under the Met’s Operation Elveden probe into corruption between the press and public officials.
Det Chief Supt Gordon Briggs, leading on Elveden, said: “De Souza leaked confidential information obtained in the course of his duties to a journalist for private gain. He was not a whistleblower and his corrupt activity was motivated by money.
“De Souza breached the trust that was placed in him by the public without reasonable excuse or justification. His dishonest actions damaged the public interest and merit criminal sanction.”
De Souza was released on bail, on condition that he co-operates with his probation officer and stays at his home address.
A former prison officer who leaked stories to the Sun about a Serco-run immigration centre in west London has pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office.
While working as a prisoner custody officer, Mark Blake, 42, from Slough, was paid nearly £8,000 for tips about the Colnbrook secure immigration removal centre in Hillingdon which resulted in 10 stories being published by the tabloid newspaper over three years.
As well as naming individuals including a 9/11 plotter, the articles highlighted issues with the way the centre was run with headlines such as “Wiis for foreign lags in UK jails”, “Gastrojail” and “We fund massages for foreign killers”.
Following a trial at the Old Bailey in March, a jury could not agree a verdict on whether Blake’s dealings with the Sun reporter amounted to misconduct.
The Crown Prosecution Service later announced it would pursue a retrial against Blake while dropping the case against his co-accused Tom Wells.
On the day the retrial was scheduled to start, Blake changed his plea to guilty after hearing that he may be spared jail to look after his two children.
Blake’s lawyer Graham Trembath QC had formally applied to judge Mark Lucraft QC for an indication on what the maximum sentence would be if the defendant changed his plea.
In his response, Judge Lucraft noted the impact of the harm caused by the stories was difficult to quantify although it did affect the reputation of Serco and the UK Border Agency and made external recruitment more difficult.
The court heard that Blake had admitted that his motivation was partly financial and partly public interest.
The judge also took into account various factors raised by Mr Trembath including the length of time since the offence and the fact Blake is the primary carer of his two sons, aged six and 13.
He concluded that ordinarily after a trial the maximum sentence would be 18 months in custody, but a guilty plea would reduce that to 15 months.
The judge told the court that a pre-sentence report would be needed to assess the impact of custody on Blake’s children which could provide “strong reasons” for suspending the sentence.
Blake, who sat in the well of the court, pleaded guilty to a single count of misconduct in a public office between January 2008 and December 2010.
He was granted conditional bail until sentencing at the Old Bailey on September 21.
A police constable was “unable to contain his urges” as he committed a string of sexual assaults while on duty, a court has heard.
Christopher Hopkins, 41, is said to have targeted his three alleged victims between 2006 and 2013 – an under-age girl, a 17-year-old girl and a work colleague at Merseyside Police.
The married father also allegedly arranged over the internet to meet a man for sexual activity when he should have been on mobile police patrol.
opening the prosecution case at Preston Crown Court, Richard Haworth told jurors: “The Crown’s case, in a nutshell, is that he was unable to contain his sexual urges and all of these alleged offences were committed to satisfy his predatory sexual nature.
“As an overall view, the audacity and impertinence of some of the sexual advances beggars belief at times. But such an approach is a common feature of his offending.”
The first complainant was aged between 13 and 15 when Hopkins visited her home address after she had been reported missing.
While alone together in the kitchen Hopkins commented she looked old for her age and effectively “gave her the once over” as he looked her up and down, said the prosecutor.
Mr Haworth said the complainant felt “intimidated” when Hopkins asked her for a kiss.
She went to give him a kiss on the cheek but the defendant turned and kissed her on the lips, the court heard.
The teenager went on to have further dealings with the complainant and arrested her on one occasion.
Mr Haworth said that while en route to the police station the defendant remarked to a fellow officer: “How long do you think it will before she is pregnant?”
The prosecutor went on: “He had possession of her mobile phone and he was looking through the content.
“He found pictures stored on her phone which depicted her wearing only her underwear and, the prosecution say, he showed them to his colleague in due course.”
On another occasion, Hopkins approached the complainant in public while in uniform and said to her: “You know what you need, don’t you? A f*** buddy.”
Hopkins, of Whickham Close, Widnes, Cheshire, denies five counts of sexual assault, one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of misconduct in a public office.
A former prison officer at top-security HMP Belmarsh tipped off a journalist about a Roman Catholic chaplain having relationships with inmates because he believed it was being “swept under the carpet”, a court has heard.
Robert Norman, 54, is accused of committing misconduct in a public office by becoming the “paid mole” of reporter Stephen Moyes while he worked at the Daily Mirror and later at the News of the World.
Norman, who was also a Prison Officers’ Association union representative, was allegedly paid more than £10,000 for 40 tips to Mr Moyes between April 30 2006 and May 1 2011, his Old Bailey trial has heard.
But giving evidence in his defence, Norman denied being Mr Moyes’ “man at Belmarsh” and insisted he wanted to highlight what was going on at the south London prison.
Under cross examination, he was quizzed on records about a £200 payment for a story about the Chaplain sacked by Belmarsh for “affairs with inmates”.
Norman agreed that he gave Mr Moyes information about “inappropriate behaviour” by the priest and the fact that he had been suspended.
Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC asked if that meant the prison had taken action and there was therefore no need to highlight the case in the press.
Norman responded: “Not, really no. Swept under the carpet, it was going to be.”
He told jurors that when he first spoke to Mr Moyes about it he believed that the chaplain was not going to be dealt with “in the correct manner” and the authorities planned only to move him.
He said: “They were not going to suspend him. There’s more to this than what you are reading here and I don’t know how far I can go without the court saying it’s hearsay.”
When the barrister suggested he was making it up as he went along, Norman replied: “I’ve got no reason to make things up. I’ve given a full and frank interview and I have been as honest as I can about this.”
The defendant allegedly channelled cheques from newspapers through his son’s bank account.
But he repeatedly denied that his son Daniel knew anything about his dealings with Mr Moyes adding that they never discussed where the money was coming from.
Mr Christopher asked: “You would not have said ‘I’m making some handy money on the side from the Mirror’?”.
The defendant replied: “No sir, I would not.”
Norman, of Milton Street, Swanscombe, Kent, denies the charge against him and the trial continues.
A “disgruntled” man from Liverpool smuggled a camera into a high-security psychiatric hospital in a bid to sell photos of notorious serial killer Ian Brady to the News of the World for £50,000, a court has heard.
Alan Hagan, 48, is on trial at the Old Bailey over his dealings with News of the World (NotW) crime reporter Lucy Panton in 2008 while he worked at Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside.
He was allegedly paid £1,000 for a story headlined “Suicide Brady hid pills in his sock” in February of that year, just a month after he first made contact with Ms Panton.
The pair went on to hatch a subterfuge nicknamed “The Project” to smuggle in a camera to take pictures and video of the ageing Moors Murderer – the first since his mugshot was released in 1966.
The court heard Hagan, who wanted to take “revenge” on bosses for his treatment, discussed payment of £50,000 for the shots.
Hagan, of Galston Close, Liverpool, denies the charge of misconduct in a public office.
Even though he did manage to smuggle a camera into Ashworth Hospital, the resulting pictures were not good enough quality and they were not published, jurors were told.
Prosecutor Mark Trafford QC told jurors that Brady was a 77-year-old patient at Ashworth who had become notorious for committing the Moors Murders with Myra Hindley, who is now dead.
Between 1963 and 1965 they murdered children on the moors around Manchester.
They were tried in 1966 and were described as “two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity” when they were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The case has stayed in the public’s consciousness over the following years as attempts were made to find the graves of the children, the prosecutor said.
Mr Trafford told jurors: “Their crimes vividly live on. The public disgust and horror of what these two people did has never and will never, of course, go away and nor, you may think, should it.
“But this case is not about what they did and what we think of them, or think of Ian Brady and what he did.
“You may well feel he is not worthy of any protection of anything anywhere. You may well think that he is beyond contempt, and you would not be blamed for that.
“But, as even Winston Churchill himself said, one of the ways we judge our society is how we look after our prisoners.”
In April 2008, an attempt by Hagan to smuggle a camera into the hospital inside a belt failed, the court heard.
Then in August, Ms Panton emailed her boss about meeting her Brady contact in Liverpool, telling him: “Meet Friday, it looks like there will be an opportunity to get the project back on.”
By October, Hagan had a new piece of kit enabling him to take pictures and video inside the secure hospital. But they were not good enough quality for the newspaper, the jury was told.
Mr Trafford said Hagan first approached the NotW because he was “disgruntled” with his employer and believed he had been “badly treated” by management.
He said: “His revenge, and his road to seek large sums of money, was to seek to sell pictures to the media. He had the position and the opportunity.
“He had seen and worked near people whose faces, whose crimes and whose past were known to many members of the public.
“He knew that such an action was not just forbidden, as you can well imagine, but was something that, the Crown say, was quite obvious to anybody who worked in or around the secure hospital system, an act that went to the very heart of the system and helped undermine all efforts to run such a system.”
A former prison officer has been jailed for 10 months for selling “salacious gossip” about celebrity inmates to the Sun and Mirror newspapers.
While working at Pentonville Prison, Reggie Nunkoo, 41, was paid £600 by the Mirror for information he gave reporter Graham Brough about Jack Tweed being on suicide watch and a prison break in 2009, the court heard.
Nunkoo, of Walthamstow, east London, went on to approach the Sun and handed journalist Neil Millard details about singer George Michael crying in his cell and being moved to a “soft” prison after he was jailed for driving under the influence of cannabis in 2010.
He was also paid in 2011 for a Sun article headlined, Acid thug hid drugs in his cell, about Daniel Lynch, who was convicted of arranging an acid attack on TV presenter Katie Piper.
The officer, who used the pseudonym Roy, admitted he was purely motivated by money and had pocketed a total of £1,650, the court heard.
When he was arrested in June 2013, police found photographs of celebrity Blake Fielder-Civil, ex-partner of the late singer Amy Winehouse, at his home, prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said.
Nunkoo earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and was today jailed for 10 months at the Old Bailey.
The Common Serjeant of London said his conduct had amounted to a “flagrant breach” of the terms of his employment and a “gross breach of trust”.
He ordered Nunkoo to pay £1,000 he had gained through his crime plus a £100 victim surcharge.
In mitigation, his lawyer Jonathan Page said the information Nunkoo handed over was “more salacious gossip that anything that undermines security”.
He said the offences were committed in the context of a “picture of a marriage in crisis and a wife demanding a better lifestyle to be provided her than Mr Nunkoo could provide on his wages”.
As a result, the defendant, who has shown “genuine remorse”, is now back living with his parents in the bedroom he grew up in, Mr Page said.
At the same hearing, the judge handed a four-month sentence suspended for 12 months to Metropolitan Police Service civilian worker Rosemary Collier, who admitted misconduct in a public office in relation to her dealings with Mr Millard in 2010.
Collier, who worked at the central communications command in Bow, was paid £700 for information from a confidential briefing note on how to act in the face of a terrorist shooting incident.
It led to a story in the Sun headlined Mumbai Raid Fear for Xmas Shoppers, the court heard.
Collier, 40, of Tiverton in Devon, appeared tearful in the dock as the judge ordered her to pay the sum total of the money she gained amounting to £772, plus a £80 victim surcharge.
Mr Millard, 33, of south Croydon, and Mr Brough, 54, of south-west London, were both cleared of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office following a trial last month at the Old Bailey.
In his evidence, Brough said he did not believe Nunkoo was a prison officer at the time and he only give him “limited information” for his stories.
Following the sentencing, Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Briggs, leading on Elveden, said: “Collier and Nunkoo leaked confidential information obtained in the course of their duties to journalists for their own private financial gain.
“When public officials act in this way, they betray the trust placed in them and undermine public confidence, their dishonest actions harm the public interest and merit criminal sanction.”