Former Sun deputy editor Fergus Shanahan has hit back at Will Lewis after the News Corp exec defended his role in the Operation Elveden inquiry.
Shanahan was finally cleared in 2015 more than three years after being arrested at his home in a dawn raid under Elveden and following an 11-week Old Bailey trial.
In July 2011 Lewis (now chief executive of Dow Jones for News Corp) moved from his job of general manager at News International to head up the Management and Standards Committee. This was tasked by parent company News Corp to “co-operate fully with all relevant investigations and inquiries in the News of the World phone-hacking case, police payments and all other related issues”.
It was the MSC which took the decision to release confidential emails to police which prompted the Met Police’s Operation Elveden. Some 34 journalists were arrested and/or charged under Elveden but none were convicted at trial. More than 30 paid sources were however convicted (mostly as a result of information disclosed by News Corp) many of whom were sent to prison.
Lewis told the Evening Standard: “If you want to win a popularity contest in life, don’t do these kind of jobs. The company faced an existential threat and it has a moral purpose to speak truth to power.
“We have a purpose to tell readers and the public about bad people doing bad things but using legal methods. I did my bit to help with the legal process…”
He added: “I feel very sorry for the victims. And I was delighted almost every journalist tried was not jailed. One day, the truth will be written.”
Shanahan was finally cleared more than three years after being arrested at his home in a dawn raid and following an 11-week Old Bailey trial.
Shanahan said in his letter to Press Gazette: “You recently reported on an interview in the London Evening Standard in which Dow Jones chief Will Lewis said he hopes one day the truth will be written about his role supervising the betrayal of Sun journalists for paying for public-interest stories.
“I assure him those of us who were his victims hope for that too. I have also asked the Standard to stop using the phrase ‘draining the swamp’ in relation to the crisis at the former News International (now News UK).
“A series of trials proved there was no swamp to be drained: this was a smear concocted by a PR advising the firm. Finally, Lewis said in the Evening Standard he is glad Sun journalists were not jailed: the reason, as Lewis avoided saying, is that despite his best efforts we were found innocent by juries.”
The evidence against Shanahan amounted to two emails, from August 2006 and August 2007, when he was deputising for editor Rebekah Wade (now Brooks).
In the emails he signed off requests by chief reporter John Kay with whom he stood trial, to pay Kay’s un-named “ace military contact” for a handful of stories which included Army bullying and a Sandhurst attempted murder investigation.