A senior Sunday Times investigative reporter remained a casual employee so that if the paper was caught out it could deny its Insight team was dealing in "black arts" and stolen property, an employment tribunal has heard.
David Connett, a former member of the Sunday Times Insight team who has taken the paper to the employment tribunal for unfair dismissal, said he was deliberately "kept off the books" by the paper in case any investigations turned sour.
Connett told the tribunal in Stratford yesterday that he was a senior member of staff but did not have a contract and was paid as a casual. He did not have a staff email, nor was his name on the Sunday Times staff directory, so that if anyone called for him his listing would not appear on the switchboard.
He said the agreement to be a casual employee was made with Dean Nelson, the then editor of Insight, when he joined the paper in July 2003 to work on the investigative team.
"If for instance it came out that we had purchased stolen goods or stolen documents, the purpose of this arrangement was for Dean to be able to say 'it wasn't the Sunday Times, it was a freelancer'," Connett added.