Sun’s royal reporter pledges to clear name
Journalists from The Sun newspaper packed the public gallery at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to support the red-top’s royal correspondent as he faced charges of paying a public official and his wife for information about the Royal Family.
After a short hearing, Duncan Larcombe, 37, vowed to clear his name and said he was “shocked and disappointed” to be charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office after allegedly paying £23,000 to John Hardy, a Colour Sergeant at the Royal Military Training Academy at Sandhurst, and his 39-year-old wife, Claire Hardy.
The journalist has been charged after an investigation by officers working on Operation Elveden, the Metropolitan Police’s inquiry into alleged corrupt payments to public officials by the media. The executive editor of The Sun, Fergus Shanahan, 58, also appeared in court having been separately charged with the same offence after allegedly authorising a journalist to make payments amounting to £7,000 to a public official.
More than 20 journalists from the newspaper attended the hearings to support their colleagues. They included The Sun columnist and former political editor Trevor Kavanagh, the “Dear Deidre” agony aunt Deirdre Saunders and senior executives Geoff Webster and Graham Dudman. Also in the public seating were Neil Wallis, former deputy editor of the News of the World, and Daily Mail columnist Simon Heffer, a friend of Mr Shanahan.
Outside the court, Mr Larcombe’s solicitor, James MacWhirter, read out a statement from his client. “I have been a journalist since the very week Princess Diana died,” it began. “During my career, 12 years of which have been spent at The Sun, I have had the privilege to cover the Royal Family and have also risked my own life reporting on the work of our brave servicemen and women on the front line in Afghanistan.
“I hope to demonstrate that I am a responsible journalist who reported in the public interest. As a royal reporter, I worked harder than any other at the Palace putting in place, and ensuring the application of, a series of criteria that had to be satisfied before a story would appear in my paper. For the past year I have had to remain silent but my aim now is to fight these allegations with every breath in my body in the hope that justice and common sense will prevail.”
During the hearing, Mr and Mrs Hardy appeared alongside Mr Larcombe in the dock. All three are charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office between 9 February 2006 and 16 October 2008. A fourth person, Tracey Bell, 34, is charged with misconduct in a public office. Ms Bell was employed by the Ministry of Defence as a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst Medical Centre.
Separately, a bodyguard for former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks appeared in court accused of conspiring to hide computers and other items from police investigating phone hacking and corrupt payments to public officials. It is alleged that David Johnson, 47, conspired – with six others already charged, including Brooks and her husband Charlie Brooks – to “conceal computers and other items” from officers investigating allegations related to The Sun and the now-defunct NOTW.
All defendants were released on unconditional bail to appear at Southwark Crown Court on 3 June.
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories