August 29, 2013 by newsgetting
The latest Sun reporter to be told by police he will not face charges in relation to an investigation into a missing mobile phone says the basis of his arrest almost a year ago was “ridiculous”. Chris Pollard, 31, was arrested last September on suspicion of “handling stolen goods” and was subjected to a year-long investigation based on a memo he had written to his bosses at the paper. Pollard, who is a casual full-time reporter at the paper, told the Guardian he been working on a late evening shift in 2009 when a member of the public in Manchester rang the paper claiming to have found a mobile phone in a nightclub which contained explicit texts from a married celebrity. Pollard transcribed some of the contents of those messages, as told by the caller, for the memo for his bosses but had never seen or been in possession of the phone. “I’m not against the police, if they suspect people of committing crime, then they should arrest them, but this was totally insane, it was way over the top,” he said. “It could have been anybody in the newsroom, it’s been extremely stressful for myself and my wife and a huge worry in the last year even in the knowledge of how ridiculous the situation was,” Pollard added. He said he had taken the call from a woman and transcribed some of the text messages that she read out from the phone. “It was very quickly decided that there was a chance this phone could have been stolen and we took the decision to go to the police with it,” he said. A short statement was given to the police in Manchester and the matter was closed soon after. “Three years later the management and standards committee [the News UK internal investigations unit] hand over all this stuff to the police and they make an assumption that I had hacked into a phone. The assumption was wrong. My arrest was based on two completely wrong assumptions,” said Pollard. “My life’s been on hold for a year. I’m a casual and the Sun have very kindly continued to pay me, but effectively I’ve been locked into the Sun and couldn’t have got work anywhere else,” he said. He was arrested in a dawn raid on his one-bedroom flat in south-east London last year by nine officers working on the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Tuleta who seized his phone, his laptop and memory sticks. Pollard believes the police thought they might have had another major newspaper scandal on their hands once they were handed more than 300m internal emails by the MSC. “It was a political statement, an unnecessary show of force. I think when the MSC handed them all the internal emails they thought they they might have another News of the World-style scandal. But I think Operation Tuleta and Operation Elveden have been a kneejerk reaction to that,” said Pollard. Pollard is the second Sun reporter this week to be told by police he will not face further action. Earlier this week Rhodri Phillips, who had also been investigated in relation to another incident involving an alleged stolen phone, was told by the Met he would not face charges. Pollard is the second Sun reporter this week to be told by police he will not face further action. Earlier this week Rhodri Phillips, who had also been investigated in relation to another incident involving an alleged stolen phone, was told by the Met he would not face charges. Pollard’s arrest was the third that week and the 21st to hit the newspaper’s newsroom. It infuriated staff who, at the time, pointed out that members of the public had been phoning in with stories for decades and that no story had emanated from this incident. Pollard confirmed no story was published and the member of the public who claimed to have found the phone in the nightclub had not been paid. Another reporter, who was also arrested and is still on police bail, collected the phone but handed it to the police. The Metropolitan police have arrested 24 Sun journalists since they launched three separate investigations into newspapers following the phone hacking scandal on News of the World. As of last week, 12 of these had been charged and face trial with four – including Pollard – told they face no further charges.