Wallington: PC Jailed For Selling Stories

A former Metropolitan Police officer who roped his mother into helping him sell a story to The Sun about a British soap star's attempted suicide has been jailed for 12 months, it can now be reported.

Thomas Ridgeway, 31, passed on two stories to the tabloid, one about the actor who slashed his wrists in a London hotel and another about alleged sexual activity by police officers at a pub.

He used his mother Sandra Ridgeway as a conduit to the newspaper to pay off money he owed her, a court was told.

The ex-Pc, of Wallington, Surrey, admitted two offences of misconduct in public office and was jailed in May.

His plea can be reported after his 55-year-old mother of New Malden, Surrey, admitted one count of aiding and abetting her son to commit misconduct in a public office.

She wept in the dock as judge Charles Wide QC sentenced her to 18 weeks in jail suspended for 26 weeks plus £1,000 costs.

At the earlier hearing, Old Bailey Judge Richard Marks QC told her son: ``This sort of offending, as you will understand, is far too serious to be dealt with in any other way than a sentence of immediate imprisonment.''

He had betrayed the trust reposed in him by reason of his office, by providing confidential information for money, the judge said.

"The first occurred as long ago as 2004, when a well known British actor, whilst in a hotel room in London, made an attempt on his own life,'' the judge said.

Ridgeway, who was based at Kennington, south London, did not attend the incident but worked on the response team that did.

The judge told him: "It appears that in the aftermath of this incident, one of your colleagues said, 'that will be in The Sun before long' and it was that which gave you the idea to sell the story.''

He decided to involve his mother and to use her as a conduit to the paper.

"They were, not unnaturally, very interested in the story and paid your mother a total of £1,600, of which she gave you half,'' the judge said.

One of the consequences of this publicity was that the individual in question, who was by definition in a very vulnerable state of mind, became, as he put it, very paranoid as to who had been responsible for the information getting into the press, he said.

The actor also thought that the publicity and his concern surrounding it had hampered his recovery.

The second offence, in July 2009, involved The Sun running stories about the alleged sexual conduct of off-duty Lambeth police officers and a police civilian employee in a pub in Kennington.

The judge said: "It appears that you learned of this as a result of gossip around the police station, you were not yourself present at the pub when these events are alleged to have occurred, and once again you decided to pass this information to The Sun for financial gain.''

Again he involved his mother and, as a consequence of two articles appearing in the newspaper, a total of £1,000 was paid for the information.

Ridgeway confirmed to the newspaper the name of the civilian employee said to have been involved, as well as the fact that there was an internal police investigation.

The judge said Ridgeway was of previous good character and served with the police from September 2002.

"You have lost your career and lost your good character,'' the judge told him. "You effectively had two paymasters, as the prosecution put it - your employers, the Metropolitan Police, and The Sun.''

There were two aggravating features - the vulnerability of the actor and the fact that Ridgeway had involved his mother, Sandra.

In mitigation, it was argued that he had been frank with the police and had pleaded guilty. The judge added: "Nobody could fail to be impressed by the substantial amount of references with which I have been provided, and which speak about you in the highest possible terms.''

He sentenced him to 12 months on count one, and three months on count two, with the sentences to be concurrent, making 12 months in all.