Reporters at The Sun referred to their readers as “plebs”, a court has heard.
The Old Bailey trial of senior reporter Nick Parker, who denies charges of paying public officials, was given details of internal emails relating to a Sun story concerning the arrest of Chelsea footballer John Terry’s mother for shoplifting in 2009.
In seeking to establish the credibility of PC Alan Tierney, who had contacted the newspaper after being involved in the case, Mr Parker wrote to his Sun colleague John Sturgis asking for details of the car driven by Susan Terry’s accomplice Susan Poole, the footballer’s mother-in-law.
The email read: “great stuff – could u ask him if he knows the reg of Poole’s silver Beetle or could he tell us their addresses (stuff a pleb who’s read the papers would never know) – that will help corroborate. Will he speak to me in confidence? Does he want a bung?” Michael Parroy QC described the email as “very revealing” and said it showed that Parker was prepared to pay a police officer for information. “Mr Parker’s main interest is to confirm the provenance of Tierney and make sure the emails are not from one of The Sun readers, or in his word ‘plebs’,” he said.
The use of the word is damaging to the newspaper, which is currently fighting the “Plebgate” libel action against Tory MP Andrew Mitchell.
Mr Mitchell is suing publishers News Group Newspapers over an article in The Sun which alleged that he told police officers at Downing Street: “Best you learn your f***ing place… you don’t run this f***ing Government, you’re f***ing plebs.”