Pubdate: October 14, 1999
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: Guardian Media Group 1999
Author: Gerard Seenan

Gerard Seenan

The veteran Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker was yesterday fined pounds 2,000 for
possession of cocaine, but he is to return to the Drivetime show the BBC
suspended him from following initial disclosures of his drug misuse.

Sentencing Walker, 54, the magistrate, Rosamond Keating, said his position
meant he had a duty to maintain higher standards in his private life than
his listeners. But Ms Keating said she did not approve of the methods used
by the News of the World journalists who exposed Walker and she condemned
their story as "filth".

Since his suspension on full pay from the BBC in April, Walker has booked
himself on to a rehabilitation programme for his cocaine addiction and the
BBC said it had decided to allow him to return following an internal
investigation - and letters of support from listeners.

Speaking outside Horseferry Road magistrates court in London, Walker said:
"I am extremely sorry for the embarrassment I have caused my family,
friends and the BBC. I am trying my very best to put my troubles behind me."

Earlier Walker's counsel, Antony Chinn, told the court Walker had turned to
cocaine after both his parents died in quick succession and the pressures
of his show became too much for him.

"He found himself alone and working hard and he turned to the occasional
use of cocaine."

Mr Chinn added that Walker had suffered financially as a result of the
exposE9 and he asked for a conditional discharge for his client. But
Walker was fined pounds 2,000 and ordered to pay pounds 200 costs. The
magistrate said the work done by undercover journalists made it difficult
for Walker to receive a fair trial. She said she did not approve of the
methods they used, but she also criticised Walker's behaviour.

Walker was suspended from his BBC job after the News of the World secretly
filmed him snorting the class A drug. Reporters from the newspaper had
befriended Walker by posing as media tycoons interested in setting up a new
radio station.

Shortly after Walker's conviction, the BBC released a statement saying it
had carried out an internal investigation and was now willing to renew his
contract for Radio 2's Drivetime show, which lapsed in September.

"The BBC is adamant that it does not tolerate the use of illegal drugs.
However, the BBC Radio management is impressed by the way Johnnie has
handled this crisis in his life.

"Radio 2 has also listened to Johnnie's audience, who registered an
overwhelming amount of support for Johnnie" the statement said.

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