By Martin Hickman
The Sun’s former managing editor made up his expenses, he told the paper’s corruption trial today.
Graham Dudman said that when he claimed on his expenses for meals with police contacts he was actually having Chinese takeaways or curries with his family at his home town of Brentwood in Essex.
He is charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by allegedly making payments to an unidentified police officer for information about the investigation into the Soham murders in 2002.
Mr Dudman, 51, is also accused of two other counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office relating to cash payments by reporters for stories about Broadmoor and Whitemoor prison.
Now The Sun’s Editorial Development Director, Mr Dudman told Kingston Crown Court he did have a source of information for the Soham investigation into the murders of two children, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
But he said he would not reveal his informant’s identity because of his journalistic duty to protect his sources.
He agreed with his lawyer, Oliver Blunt QC, that the name of the Soham informant for whom he had claimed cash payments of £750 and £500 was a false name.
He said that when he claimed to be meeting police or other contacts at four meals between September and November 2002 he had actually been buying meals for his family at either the Shenfield Tandoori or Imperial Peking in Brentwood.
Asked whether he had entertained sources at the meals in September, Mr Dudman replied: “No they were takeaway meals for my family.” He also agreed he had claimed Sun expenses for sources for a Sunday afternoon meal with his family at Nando’s at Bluewater shopping centre.
Mr Blunt said: “You’ve told us they were takeaways meals for the family etc. Was there anything you saw that was out of kilter relating to making expense claims for your family?”
Mr Dudman told the court: “No, it was a completely common practice – something that I was taught to do when I arrived on Fleet Street. I had done it for years, many many reporters did exactly the same.” The executive added: “And when I became managing editor and saw expenses, it was absolutely abundantly clear to me that this was a practice across The Sun.”
He said that as managing editor he paid “very little” attention to expenses claims for a series of stories about Broadmoor hospital from Jamie Pyatt, the Sun’s Thames Valley reporter. However, he agreed that he had challenged Mr Pyatt why he needed cash for the Broadmoor stories – and that he had sent a similar email to another reporter, John Troup, about a story on HMP Whitemoor.
Mr Dudman, who had earlier said he had a concern about reporters pocketing cash, said: “I’m checking these payments were for journalism…
“This was a cash culture. There was lots of cash around. I just wanted to make sure it was [claimed] for the right reasons.”
Mr Dudman agreed that in his email to Mr Pyatt he had asked for reassurance about the cash payments “for my own safety.” Mr Dudman explained: “Ultimately I release the cash and I suppose if there is ever an issue with where the cash has gone… had it not been spent on journalism, I would have had questions asked of me.”
However Mr Dudman said that he had been satisfied about the payments [which were made], saying “they were all good stories… and I would have said: ‘OK, fine’.”
He said police and prison stories listed on the counts he faced had been in the public interest.
He, Mr Pyatt, Mr Troup, Sun picture editor John Edwards, news editor Chris Pharo and former deputy news editor Ben O’Driscoll deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office. The case continues.