Jeff Edwards

Edwards says he was told he 'should be paying police officers to induce them to pass on information'

A former News of the World crime correspondent told the Leveson inquiry today that he was instructed "to bribe police officers" when working at the newspaper around 30 years ago.

In evidence to the inquiry Jeff Edwards, who is also a former Daily Mirror chief crime correspondent and now president of the Crime Reporters Association, was asked about his time at the now-closed tabloid, which he joined in 1981.

He told the inquiry he found it "quite difficult" to adjust to working "in a Sunday newspaper environment" and that in late 1983 or early 1984, "it became apparent that I wasn't doing the job to the satisfaction to my then boss".

"He said to me 'you've got to up your game'.

"I said it's really really difficult, I was struggling to make the adjustment and he said to me 'well look there's money available, you should be out there spending it on your contacts."

Edwards told the inquiry that he could not remember "exactly how the dialogue flowed" but that in asking for clarification he was told "you need to put some inducements out there."

In a written statement published by the inquiry Edwards said he "did not offer bribes or rewards to any police contacts" and three or four weeks after the initial discussion "clearly my performance was still not good enough because the news editor confronted me again".

"He was angry and again said words to the effect that I should be paying police officers to induce them to pass on information.

"I do remember that I became upset and said to him that I disapproved strongly of such methods and said something on the lines that I thought we were about exposing hypocrisy and corruption and yet here we were with him instructing me to bribe police officers.

Edwards added that "this was probably the final nail in my coffin".

In oral evidence he said he was removed from his post "a couple of weeks later" to perform "other work away from crime reporting" within the company, before leaving in 1985.

"That was 30 years ago. I can't talk about how things proceeded after that," he said.

But he added that he "thought it was indicative of the culture in that particular organisation at the time" although he added that he had not witnessed wrongdoing himself.

In 1992 Edwards joined the Daily Mirror as chief crime correspondent, adding in his statement that "the culture there was far removed from that of the News of the World".

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