20th March 2015
Four senior journalists from The Sun were today cleared at the Old Bailey on all charges relating to paying public officials for information.
Chief reporter John Kay and royal editor Duncan Larcombe were cleared of making payments. Executive editor Fergus Shanahan and deputy editor Geoff Webster were cleared over allegations that they signed off payments.
The criminal process has taken its course, and the accused have been acquitted of all charges. The jury’s verdicts are clear and must be respected.
What has been revealed through the evidence given at the trials, however, is another appalling catalogue of bad practice, weak management and legal failures at The Sun. Not for the first time, we have seen journalists dragged through the courts because they have not been properly trained, supervised or managed by their bosses at News UK. This case, once again, demonstrates the pressing need for proper and effective regulation of the press.
We will now hear calls from media corporations for an end to any further legal cases. The proper course of criminal justice cannot be influenced by this kind of pressure. Each case must be decided on its merits and by a jury which has heard all the evidence. The rule of law requires criminal cases to be decided by the courts; not by the press.
Joan Smith, Executive Director of Hacked Off, said: “What this case highlights is the need for proper regulation to ensure, among other things, that journalists are not carrying out their duties in a culture that could later lead them to court. An independently audited self-regulation system would force the big media corporates to put their houses in order, which would be good for the media, good for readers and good for journalists.”