How much journalism training was there at The Sun? 'None', former managing editor Graham Dudman tells court - Press Gazette

How much journalism training was there at The Sun? 'None', former managing editor Graham Dudman tells court

Former Sun managing editor Graham Dudman has told the Sun six trial that there was no editorial training at the paper.

Dudman, 51, is standing trial along with five senior Sun colleagues accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office by paying for stories.

Taking the stand yesterday he said that editor Rebekah Brooks jotted a 14-word job description on a Post-it note when he was appointed as her managing editor.

Jurors were shown the seven-point list which Dudman had kept since his 2004 appointment.

He said he was put in charge of “staff performance” and dealing with PCC complaints, as well as a move of the News International printing press under the heading “Project Hal|”.

The list also mentioned “Lorna”, “courses – CRD advise”, and “PA: Phillipa/Marie”, and a reference to “Corporate news”.

Dudman said this meant he was to act as “Lorna’s” line manager in her role as the Sun's PR manager, and would ask his predecessor Chris Roycroft-Davis about management training courses.

He said he was given a new PA, and was charged with keeping Mrs Brooks “abreast of news in the industry”. 

“I never got any more as a formal job description”, he told the court.

Dudman said his role as managing editor included educating reporters and sub-editors on language to use in stories about Broadmoor, making sure  not to refer to it as a prison, and handling complaints.

He said he sometimes spent half his week dealing with PCC issues in a bid to avoid having to print an apology in the paper.

Asked whether there was journalism training at The Sun, he said: “None, there was training in relation to management and HR skills, and employment law, but that was it.”

Dudman also told the court he went to Liverpool shortly after Brooks became editor in a bid to fix the relationship with the city over the paper's Hillsborough disaster coverage.

“I was sent to Liverpool to meet the members of the Hillsborough family support group to apologise and see  if a way forward was there for resolution.

“In the end, it didn't work, but I spent a lot of time and energy reaching out to the people after The Sun's awful coverage.”

He said the front-page article shortly after the disaster, headlined “The Truth” was 'without doubt the darkest hour in the paper's history.

“I wasn't at the paper at the time but I remember it vividly”, he said.

“It caused immeasurably hurt and harm on Merseyside, it still does, and I did the best I could but ultimately I failed.

“But it was something I felt strongly about because the coverage was beyond appalling.”

Dudman said journalists across Fleet Street routinely fiddled their expenses as compensation for working long hours with the knowledge of senior editors.

He said he was told to claim around £100 a week in expenses when he joined the Daily Mail in 1987 to match the level of other reporters.

He said claims did not have to be for work-related expenses, and everybody in the industry knew this was happening.

“When I joined the Daily Mail as a casual, one of the first things that happened was I was taken aside by one of the senior reporters and told that every week I should claim around £100 a week in expenses”, he told the court.

“Some of them would relate to work and some would not.

“It didn't particularly matter if I spent it in relation to expense for work receipts, but expenses claims should be around the £100 mark.”

He said expense claims would include restaurant receipts, taxi fares, and petrol claims, and when a reporter had not spent enough they invented claims.

Dudman said a pack of reporters in Dubai covering the build up to first Gulf War made up a batch of expenses to ensure they were claiming enough.

“It became clear we didn't have enough expenses”, he said.

“One of the guys from the Daily Express went into town and found a printing shop, got several pads of receipts printed up  which he brought back and we shared them around over dinner that night.

“People filled in these blank receipts in and put their expenses, so everyone had similar amounts of expense claims when we came back to Britain.”

Dudman worked for the Daily Express and the News of the World before joining The Sun in 1990, and said the culture of expenses was the same everywhere he went.

“It soon became apparent to me it was almost like an allowance – everybody knew it, the news editor knew it”, he said. 

“It was just part and parcel of the regular work.

“You go on a job, covering the story, and got to know reporters sharing expenses stories.

“It soon became apparent it was an industry wide culture that was accepted across the board.”

Dudman, a married father of two, said The Sun and other tabloids had a reputation for “good exes”.

He said: “The company knew what was happening, it wasn't a secret.

“Every now and again there was an expenses purge, focusing on the budget and spending.

“People were told you need to cut any expenses by ten per cent.”

Dudman started his career at BBC Radio Cumbria before retraining as a newspaper reporter and joining the Stockport Express.

After a stint at the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, he joined the Daily Mail in 1987, before moving to the Daily Express.

It was here he landed a scoop about security issues at Heathrow Airport shortly after the Lockerbie bombing, attracting the attention of other papers.

Dudman was poached by The Sun in 1990 when it was edited by Kelvin MacKenzie, rising to news editor two years later at the age of 28.

He moved with his then-fiance to Florida in 1993 for a five-year stint running their own news agency, before being lured back to The Sun by his friend David Yelland who had been appointed editor.

Dudman was made assistant editor of news then associate editor, but was moved to the managing editor's office in 2004 under Rebekah Brooks' editorship whens she brought in her own news team.

He stayed in that position until 2011, when he was made editorial development director.



Press Gazette's must-read weekly newsletter featuring interviews, data, insight and investigations.