openDemocracy is been bringing daily coverage of the trial of Sun journalists charged with aiding and abetting misconduct in public office by paying a police officer for information. Here’s Wenesday’s report.
A lawyer for a senior executive of the Sun newspaper today asked the jury at his trial whether Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper group was trying to cover up the truth about its payments to public officials.
Nigel Rumfitt QC, barrister for Sun Assistant Editor (News), told the Old Bailey that the fallout from the News of the World hacking scandal had threatened to crumble Mr Murdoch’s US holding group News Corp, with the loss of 46,000 jobs.
In a “desperate” attempt to save its own skin, he told the court, its British subsidiary News International had handed information on journalists below editor level to the Metropolitan Police in the hope of avoiding a corporate prosecution.
However, Mr Rumfitt complained, the documents passed to detectives contained only a fraction of the paperwork on cash payments signed by Rebekah Brooks, then editor of the Sun and now chief executive of News UK, News International’s new brand name.
Making his closing speech for Mr Pharo, on trial over payments to a police officer who supplied information to the Sun, Mr Rumfitt complained that his client had been “blamed for misconduct way above him at that newspaper.”
He told the jury: “Someone removed all the aces, kings and queens in case they engage corporate responsibility.”
Mr Pharo, 46, and the Sun’s Thames Valley reporter Jamie Pyatt, 52, deny aiding and abetting misconduct in public officer over the payment of about £10,000 cash to a Surrey police officer between 2002 and 2011.
Mr Rumfitt reminded the jury that the Sun’s newsdesk assistant, Charlotte Hull, had testified at an earlier trial at Kingston Crown Court that, while editor of the Sun, Mrs Brooks had signed “hundreds” of authorization forms for cash payments.
As well as that three million emails had been deleted on Mrs Brooks’s orders, meaning other paperwork was missing, Mr Rumfitt complained.