After selling two stories to the UK Sun, former police officer Thomas Ridgeway pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office and ended up in jail. Ridgeway had his mother sell the stories to the newspaper and split the cash with her. In total, they pulled in £2,600 (roughly $4,300 U.S.).
Ridgeway “has been jailed for 12 months for selling information to the Sun, it can be revealed for the first time” for legal reasons,” the Guardian reported.
He was jailed in May, according to the Press Gazette.
“You effectively had two paymasters, as the prosecution put it – your employers, the Metropolitan police, and the Sun,” the judge Justice Wide said, according to the Guardian.
The son and mother got £1,600 for a story about an actor who tried to kill himself back in 2004. “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,” the Press Gazette reported the judge said.
The judge discussed the effect of that story going public. The Guardian explained:
“The individual in question, who was 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, the judge said. The actor also thought that the publicity and his concern surrounding it had hampered his recovery.”
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Ridgeway and his mother got £1,000 for telling the Sun about gossip in 2009 about the “alleged sexual conduct of off-duty Lambeth police officers and a police civilian employee” at a pub.
In neither case was Ridgway even a witness to what he had his mom tell the newspaper, the Guardian noted. Ridgeway didn’t tell his mom that they were “committing a crime.”
He told her instead, “It’s fine, the police often sell stories, if we get caught I’ll just get a slap at work,” UK media site the Drum reported.
Ridgeway’s mother, Sandra Ridgeway, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the misconduct in public office and received a sentence of 18 weeks in prison and a £1,000 fine, the Press Gazette reported.
Ridgeway admitted he “dragged the wool over his mother’s eyes,” according to the Drum.