Police probe prison staff payments

Two prison officers at separate high security jails allegedly took payments of thousands of pounds from journalists, a senior police officer has said.

Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, the Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers said that detectives had analysed stories potentially linked to payments to two prison officers at separate high security prisons.

She said: "It's our assessment that there are reasonable grounds to suspect offences have been committed and that the majority of these stories reveal very limited material of genuine public interest."

The first official is accused of receiving payments from Trinity Mirror, News International and Express Newspapers between April 2010 and June 2011, totalling nearly £35,000. It is alleged that he received additional payments on top of this, with the final payment being made in February this year.

Another prison officer at a different high security prison allegedly received payments from Trinity Mirror between February 2006 and January 2012, totalling more than £14,000, the inquiry heard.

Ms Akers said that to date, 15 current and former journalists have been arrested under Operation Weeting, the Met's probe into alleged phone hacking, of whom 12 are on bail.

Six people, including former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie, have been charged in relation to the inquiry and will appear in court in September.

Forty one people have been arrested under Operation Elveden, the investigation into alleged corrupt payments to officials, including 23 former or current journalists, four police officers, nine current or former public officials and five people who allegedly acted as go-betweens. Seven arrests have been made as part of Operation Tuleta, which is looking at allegations of computer hacking and privacy infringement.

The inquiry then heard closing submissions from Neil Garnham QC for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

He said that there was no inappropriate "cosiness" or corrupt relationships between journalists and the police: "We frankly admit that there have been incidents which led to a plain perception of cosiness between particular senior MPS officers and particular journalists. There was no relationship between senior officers and journalists that was in fact corrupt. There was no cosiness or inappropriately close relationship that in fact tainted police decision making."