Operation Elveden: Sun reporter’s MoD mole revealed
For seven and a half years, the Sun newspaper had a “paid” mole at the heart of the Ministry of Defence.
The “covert intelligence source” was Bettina Jordan Barber, a 42-year-old civil servant respected by her colleagues and trusted with highly-sensitive information.
Married to an Army officer, she had “Developed Vetting” security clearance and she advised St James’s Palace and Clarence House on army matters when Princes William and Harry were serving officers.
According to veteran chief reporter at the Sun, John Kay, she delivered “belting exclusives” and “splashes” on a regular basis and was paid handsomely for them.
The full story of her role as a paid informant for the Sun could not previously be disclosed for legal reasons.
‘Ace military contact’
Now the betrayal of her position can be reported in full for the first time.
From January 2004 to August 2011, Mr Kay’s “Number One” or “Ace military contact” supplied information for 65 stories and was paid exactly £100,000.
Arrested in February 2012, Jordan Barber was a major figure in the eight-month trial of Rebekah Brooks where details emerged of emails, between Mr Kay and Mrs Brooks, requesting authorisation for payment.
Mrs Brooks’s replies revealed the value of the information being sold: “Brilliant scoop!” she once wrote.
However, for legal reasons, the jury in that trial were not told that Jordan Barber had already pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office, nor were the jury in the John Kay trial told of her plea, or the fact that she was jailed for a year in January.
Mrs Brooks was cleared of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
Once sanctioned, the payments would be made via a money transfer to Jordan Barber’s local branch of Thomas Cook travel agents. To conceal the identity of its source, the Sun would pay the tax due on each payment.
Jordan Barber had started work for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 1997 and shortly after signed a declaration to confirm she understood that she was bound by the Official Secrets Act.
As she worked her way up, and enjoyed various postings, she would be asked for advice by government ministers and senior officers.
Crucially, at one stage, she dealt with disciplinary issues and the deaths of servicemen and women on active service abroad.