By Hugh Dunnett, Crime correspondent
Rob Banks, Suffolk Gazette’s esteemed Crime Editor, has been arrested by detectives investigating alleged corrupt payments to public officials.
Cops suspect Banks, 34, from Cockfield, near Sudbury, bought a Suffolk Police HQ gardener a cup of tea in order to gain information for a string of impressive scoops, including his recent exclusive story about the Suffolk Police Apache helicopter blowing up a vicarage.
Banks is the latest in a worrying list of journalists to be arrested for allegedly paying public officials, including a number of senior staff at The Sun newspaper.
His luxury house was raided at dawn yesterday while he slept inside with his two cats and someone else’s wife.
A police insider (whom Suffolk Gazette did not pay or bribe in any way to get this quote) said: “The top brass suspected for some time that Rob Banks was paying someone on the inside.
“His tremendous scoops about the force Apache helicopter were the last straw, and they decided to arrest Banks as part of Operation Elveden, which is being led by the Metropolitan Police to crack down on journalists and corrupt officials.”
Banks’ laywer, Sue Grabbit, from Sue Grabbit and Run solicitors said: “I can confirm our client Mr Banks was arrested at 5.30am yesterday. He is yet to be charged with any offence, and maintains his innocence.
“He claims specifically that the Suffolk Police gardener actually bought HIM the cup of tea, and therefore no offence was committed.
“However, he does admit taking a number of blank invoices from the cafe and using them to make false expense claims at the Suffolk Gazette, and that is a matter being dealt with privately by the paper’s Editor.”
Banks’ neighbours in sleepy Cockfield last night spoke of their shock at the arrest. One, Doris Morris, said: “We were woken up by a terrible commotion. I heard police sirens and screeching tyres, so shook my husband, Norris Morris, and told him to look out of the bedroom window.
“There were ten police cars and a police van, and he said he saw that nice Mr Banks being led out in handcuffs.
“I hope they let him out soon. He’s a very nice man.”
A Suffolk Police spokesman said: “We can not comment on this case.
“Unless you give us £100 in a brown envelope.”
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