Ex-director of ENRC claims 'leak' meeting with reporter was a bluff
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Deputy Business Editor
Wednesday 27 November 2013
The City grandee Sir Paul Judge has claimed that he was tricked by a supposed journalist in a sting operation orchestrated by the controversial mining company ENRC, with which he is locked in a bitter battle.
Sir Paul, who was a director at ENRC, sued the company for libel after it issued a statement to the Stock Exchange claiming he had been leaking damaging information about the company to the media.
But ENRC responded by publishing parts of a transcript of a conversation Sir Paul had with what the company claimed to be a journalist. The transcript had Sir Paul giving ENRC information to the journalist and asking if he could get the stories into the media.
On Wednesday, in a formal response, Sir Paul admitted he had met “the journalist” and discussed “ENRC matters” including the revelation that the Serious Fraud Office was investigating it and had been extremely tough on the company.
However, he claimed he had suspected the meeting was a trap all along and guessed that the journalist was acting on behalf of ENRC.
He claimed that, in a sort of double bluff, he spoke to the journalist in the full knowledge that, rather than write it up in the media, the journalist would pass the information on to his ENRC-related handlers. The journalist had assured him the conversation was not for publication and therefore the information given was not stock market-sensitive, he claimed.
His plan was, he claimed, that when ENRC’s employees saw the “dirty trick” that the company had used on him, they would speak up and “expose the methods”.
Sir Paul added that he was entitled to meet with the journalist and believed he was acting in the best interests of the wider ENRC, even if, as he admitted, the discussion would not be approved of by the company lawyer .
Sir Paul’s legal filing said the journalist “was attempting to entrap the defendant into making statements which could be used against him by the claimant and/or individuals associated with the claimant.”
He claimed the journalist made a recording of the meetings without his knowledge or permission.
The Independent is aware of the identity of the journalist but cannot name him for legal reasons. He advertises himself as a journalist and due diligence adviser, working for companies doing checks on businesses and people.
Also in his defence, Sir Paul says he explained to director Richard Burrows that he had only ever discussed ENRC with a person from an “economic intelligence organisation”, that he was careful about what he said and that no harm had been caused to the company by the meeting.
He had also cited in the email concerns that ENRC had tried to hack into his phone calls at around late 2011 – around the time of the meeting with the journalist – and that he had reported this to the City of London Police.
ENRC this week quit the London Stock Exchange but is still being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office and has left behind it a wave of recriminations.
MPs this week accused the UK Listing Authority regulator of being asleep on the job when it allowed the mining company to list its shares here.
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