Former Police Officer Jailed
A former police officer has been jailed for 10 months for selling details of the arrests of footballer John Terry's mother and Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood to The Sun newspaper.
Ex-Surrey Pc Alan Tierney was sentenced at the Old Bailey after admitting two counts of misconduct earlier this month.
He pleaded guilty to two counts - one between March 26 and April 3, 2009, and a second between December 2 and 7, 2009.
He sold details about Sue Terry and Sue Poole, the mother and mother-in-law of former England football captain John Terry, being arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in Surrey.
He also sold details about the arrest of guitarist Ronnie Wood, 65, on suspicion of beating up his Russian lover Ekaterina Ivanova, who is in her 20s.
Terry, Poole and Wood all accepted cautions over the matters.
Passing sentence at the Old Bailey today, Mr Justice Fulford said that Tierney's offences were "a disgraceful way for a police officer to act''.
The judge said: "It is wholly against the public interest for those who hold public office cynically to profit out of the misery or unfortunate circumstances of those for whom they are responsible.''
The court heard that Tierney had sold the name and address of a witness to the Wood incident.
Mr Justice Fulford said: "The most serious aspect of the two offences is that, in relation to count two, the defendant provided the name and, most significantly, the address of the witness.
"The fact that the individual coincidentally tried to sell the story to another newspaper is neither here nor there in terms of what this defendant had in mind.
"Put bluntly, it could easily have led to that witness withdrawing all co-operation as regards being a witness.''
The court heard that Tierney was one of the officers sent to deal with Terry and Poole when they were stopped by store detectives at a Tesco in Weybridge, Surrey.
After the Sun ran an exclusive story about the arrests, he contacted the tabloid from the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, to correct the reported value of the goods involved, from £850 to £1,450.
He was then contacted by journalists on the newspaper, and was offered a "donation'' for a detailed account of what the women said and what they were accused of taking.
Tierney also tipped them off when civil legal action was started for compensation.
He was paid with a cheque in his brother-in-law's name.
In relation to the second count, he was called to interview a witness to the incident involving Wood.
Tierney contacted a journalist at the Sun, including making one of the calls while he was at a police station.
He gave the name and address of the witness to the newspaper.
In mitigation, the court heard that most of the details would have eventually become public, and that their leak had not undermined any investigation.
The witness in the Terry case had also approached two other newspapers to try to sell his story.
Defending, Bill Emlyn Jones said Tierney was "an effective and well-regarded police officer'' who was commended a number of times during his 11 years as a constable.
He said: "He has lost everything already. He has been dismissed from the job that he loved and he has therefore lost his income, his reputation, his family. His wife has separated from him and contact with his children has been extremely difficult.
"His fall from grace is complete already.''
He said that Tierney was genuinely sorry and regretted what had happened.
Surrey Police statement
Chief Constable Lynne Owens said: "It is totally unacceptable that a serving police officer chose to pass on information to the media for his own personal gain.
"Officers are regularly privy to sensitive information and by the very nature of their job are trusted to act with integrity and professionalism at all times.
"This was an appalling abuse of his position and Mr Tierney has not only let down his colleagues but more importantly betrayed the trust the public put in us.
"This sort of behaviour tarnishes the reputation of the vast majority of our hard-working and professional officers and staff who serve the people of Surrey."
"The Force referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) when this matter came to light and Mr Tierney was immediately suspended from duty. He was subsequently fast tracked through our disciplinary procedure before I dismissed him in July last year.
"We have supported the Operation Elveden investigation and have had officers working within the Metropolitan Police?s team to assist with this case.
"The Force is committed to dealing with any incidents of corruption. This kind of behaviour has no place in Surrey Police and we will not hesitate to take quick and decisive action if there is evidence that any officer is involved in conduct of this type."