23 April 2014

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Journalist cleared of attempting to pervert the course of justice

A journalist accused of trying to pervert the course of justice by asking another reporter to publish a prejudicial expose about a crack dealer has been cleared by a jury.

A recorder at Birmingham Crown Court directed the jury to clear Amardeep Bassey, 28, after hearing legal submissions from his defence counsel.

The court was told Bassey hoped the article would help the dealer, his “good mate”, to walk free from court by prejudicing a forthcoming trial.

But Recorder Ruth Downing said the prosecution had failed to show any evidence of a forthcoming trial, or a crack dealer, and she directed the jury to acquit Bassey.

Earlier, Mr Stuart Clarkson, prosecuting, had told the jury that Bassey, a reporter with the Birmingham-based Sunday Mercury, asked freelance journalist Paul Samrai and two other reporters for advice about how to prejudice criminal proceedings.

Mr Samrai told the court that Bassey approached him in the press room at Birmingham Crown Court on February 8 this year and outlined the alleged plot in a mixture of English and Punjabi.

Samrai, who has worked for the News of the World, Sunday Mirror and Channel 4′s Despatches programme, admitted that he was jailed for three years in 1994 at Southwark Crown for his part in a passport scam. The sentence was later reduced to two years on appeal.

Bassey, of Coseley, West Midlands, claimed the conversation with Mr Samrai was a joke between two journalists.

He denied doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice between February 7 and February 29.

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