British tabloid journalist Simon Wright fined by South African court during World Cup

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa, AP
Saturday, July 10, 2010

British journalist Wright fined by SAfrican court

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — A British tabloid journalist who had been accused of trying to undermine World Cup security has paid a 750 rand ($100) fine to have his case dropped.

Simon Wright of the Sunday Mirror admitted Saturday to breaking South African immigration law in exchange for prosecutors’ agreement not to pursue the case further.

Authorities had accused Wright of being involved in an “orchestrated” attempt to undermine World Cup security after a man found his way into England’s locker room in Cape Town on June 18, following England’s 0-0 draw with Algeria.

Prosecutors said Wright harbored and interviewed the man, Pavlos Joseph, as the police were looking for him.

Joseph was arrested on June 28, and paid a $100 admission-of-guilt fine in exchange for a Cape Town magistrate dropping charges against him.

South African national police commissioner Bheki Cele said at the time that Wright had allegedly arranged for Joseph’s hotel accommodation using false details, adding that Wright also had a contract with Joseph for exclusive interviews for seven days “after he made news.”

Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa issued a statement criticizing Wright’s actions.

Wright’s admission of guilt “is indicative that some journalists will do anything to get a story, even commit a criminal act,” Mthethwa said. “We are a sovereign country with laws that must be upheld by all citizens, as well as all visitors.”

Wright now has a criminal record in South Africa, police noted.

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