The jury in the Sun six trial today heard evidence suggesting former managing editor Graham Dudman authorised payments of £350, £400 and £1,000 to police officers.
The court heard that on 11 September 2002 Dudman emailed a colleague, saying: “You may see some paperwork for cash payments of £350 and £400 originated by Claire and signed by me yesterday (Sept 10th).
“This is for 2 payments for a City of London police officer contact of mine, of whom Sue T is aware, for excellent background information on the Carr/Huntley investigation in which he is involved.”
He is accused of asking for another £1,000 two days later for an “early steer” on news that two Soham investigation officers had been arrested on child porn charges.
Prosecutor Peter Wright QC said: “There was a culture of submitting false expenses – it was rife.
“You were a willing party to it, and you perpetuated it, deliberately.
“Do you see a parallel between the submission of expense claims and the bribing of police officers by journalists?”
Dudman replied: “No.”
Dudman refused to say whether he had paid a City of London police officer for information on the Soham murder investigation to avoid identifying his source.
“Was this request for payment genuine”, asked Wright, of the email from Dudman asking for £1,000 to his source.
“We are crossing into an area I'm really not prepared to start talking about”, he replied:
Dudman said there was “every reason to conclude this was a genuine claim” but said he could not remember if the money was paid out.
But he refused to go any further than the email about who the source was and whether what he wrote in his email was the truth.
“I'm not going to expand on anything that's in that email”, he said.
“I'm certainly not seeking to hide, I don't feel I'm hiding where I'm standing at the moment.
“I have a source to protect which is what I will do.”
Asked if it was true he had a City of London police contact, Dudman insisted: “I'm just not going to talk about who my sources were.
“My source has not been identified and I'm very uncomfortable answering any questions.”
When told by Judge Richard Marks QC that he was not being asked to identify the source, Dudman said he would still not answer those questions and refused to say whether it was a single contact or more than one source.
“My code of responsibility to my source is absolute – that's my position and that's my answer.”
Wright accused Dudman of “self-preservation”, telling the jury that he was prepared to tell his bosses in the 2002 email that it was a police source, but was not prepared to discuss that now.
In a second email shown to the jury, Dudman asked in September 2002 for £1,000 for “a confidential payment – it is for a serving police officer contact of mine who gave us the early steer and name of the Soham police child porn suspect”.
Wright said: “You're bribing a policeman in these emails here.”
Dudman replied: “No, I'm not bribing.
“The email states it is money in exchange for extraordinary information.”
He continued: “A source provided me with exclusive information about the two officers who were caught with child porn.
“I'm happy to accept I had a source who was paid cash for the information, and I'm no disputing I wrote that email.”
Faced with expense claims for meals from September 2002, Dudman said they were personal payments, mainly for family meals or takeaways.
He said he added the word “special” to “entertaining City London police contact” to “fill out the line”.
Dudman accepted there was an “insatiable thirst” at the paper to get leads on the Soham story.
“The truth is in 2002 there was on the part of the newspaper an insatiable thirst for information concerning the disappearance and tragic death of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman”, said Wright.
Dudman replied: “It was, but it wasn't just The Sun – every strand of the media, broadcast, print and international media.”
Wright continued: “You were prepared to pay public officials for anything that could give you even the slightest advantage over your rivals – that's true isn't it?”
Dudman replied: “I was prepared to pay a source for information directly relating to the astonishing behaviour of police officers at the heart of the Chapman family.”
Dudman said he never questioned any payments to prison officers or workers at Broadmoor hospital.
He said he had not considered the consequences of paying for stories on notorious patients like the Yorkshire Ripper and the Stockwell Strangler, but insisted stories obtained by The Sun from within Broadmoor were in the public interest.
“Did you ever stop and consider the payment of a public official in respect of any information coming from Broadmoor?”, asked Wright.
“Did you ever stop and think about that?”
Dudman replied: “Probably not.”
The court heard Dudman emailed colleague John Troup on December 4, 2007, asking why £300 cash was being paid for a story about a suicide in Whitemoor Prison.
The following day, Troup replied: “The tipster is a Prison Officer at Whitemoor and has requested we pay him in cash.
“For obvious reasons he doesn't want any record of his name anywhere.
“He claims the Home Office routinely monitor the bank accounts of warders at Cat A jails.
“Not sure whether that's right but in the circumstances it seemed a reasonable request.”
Dudman then told him: 'That's fine – thanks.'
Dudman told the court: “My concern here was very gently asking John just make sure this money is going for journalism, and not going for anything else and he send me that reply.”
Wright said: “Did you ever once query the propriety of paying a Broadmoor contact for a story?
“Did you ever once query the propriety of paying a Broadmoor employee for a story?
“Did you ever once query the propriety of paying a prison officer for a story?”
To each of the three questions, Dudman replied: “I don't remember doing so.”
He was pointed to alleged references to public officials in expenses claims, but told the court: “On some of these, I would literally look at the form, look at the name of the reporter, and look at the amount. Then I would sign it.”
He said he had “a mountain” of expense forms to deal with every week, and would spend just seconds on each one.
Dudman also emailed Pyatt on 4 December, 2007, asking why cash payments were being made for stories about a nurse being stabbed, a killer on suicide watch in Broadmoor, and a “soldier fireball” story.
“Jamie, I suspect I know the answers but just for the files for my safety, can you drop me a line to explain why we need to pay cash for the following stories pleas”, he asked.
Pyatt told him: “Rather not have it spelled out on your files for my own protection as well as yours, as I did not realise that a file was kept on who I asked payments for, but I can spell it out if absolutely essential.
“Just judging by the fact that all are exclusive and one is a police story, one is a Broadmoor story, and one is army story, is hopefully sufficient.
“And NI cheques in those quarters are not welcome.”
Dudman told the court: “It's me very plainly saying to Jamie look, there are questions being asked about cash payments.
“I'm making any accusations but could you just let me know why are we paying cash for these stories.
“The subtext was just making sure it's not going in your pocket.”
Dudman said he faces constant budget pressure, and would receive little help from editor Rebekah Brooks.
“I was being torn between two bosses, with the chief financial officer and chief executive on my case at weekly budget meetings”, he said.
“They would tear a strip off me and I would come down and mention the budget to Rebekah, who frankly didn't take it as a great priority for her staff.
“Department head had to look do they want to upset me or the editor, and all the time they upset me.”
Dudman issued a prepared statement when interviewed by police, refusing to answer questions on the advice of his lawyer and to protect his sources.
Wright accused him as using that as an excuse to avoid the police questions.
“You used a claim of source protection as a shield against probing questions that would reveal your criminal conduct”, he said.
Dudman replied: “I absolutely refute that, I was given and accepted legal advice not to answer questions.
“I said I wasn't going to be answering questions because it was protecting my sources.
“Any questions I answered could lead to sources being identified.”
Wright concluded by saying: “Is the real reason for that because you can't without admitting this offence?
“You wouldn't give an honest answer on these emails because you couldn't again revealed precisely what was going on at The Sun with your agreement and participation – that's the truth isn't it?”
Dudman replied: “Absolutely not.”
Pharo, of Wapping, east London, denies four counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
O'Driscoll, of Windsor, Berkshire, and Dudman, of Brentwood, Essex, both deny three counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
Edwards, of Hutton, Brentwood, Essex, and Pyatt, of Windsor, deny two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
Troup, of Saffron Walden, Essex, denies one charge of misconduct in public office.
All six defendants have been cleared of an overarching conspiracy to pay public officials, while Pharo was found not guilty of paying a Sandhurst soldier.