By Martin Hickman
The Sun’s picture editor, John Edwards, was simply acceding to requests from a longstanding colleague when he responded to emails from a reporter asking for money to pay his sources, his lawyer said today.
Mr Edwards is charged with one count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office arising from his response to two emails sent to him by Jamie Pyatt, the paper’s Thames Valley reporter and former news editor Jamie Pyatt. He received another two emails by Mr Pyatt requesting payment but did not respond to them.
In her closing speech at the two-month Sun corruption trial at Kingston Crown Court, Sasha Wass QC, Mr Edwards’ barrister, said that his working life was frantic, daily dealing with a demanding editor, dozens of staff photographers and freelancers and thousands of pictures.
She pointed out that while every count at the trial involved payment for information for stories, none of the pictures accompanying those stories had been sourced from a public official – and her client was the picture editor.
Over the nine year period the Crown alleged Sun journalists had conspired to pay public officials, the picture desk’s budget ranged from £2.9m to £4, Miss Wass said, yet the total paid by the picture desk to Jamie Pyatt’s sources was £1,625.
That meant 0.005% of Mr Edwards’ £36 million budget over nine years was related to the single charge before the jury: “A tiny dent of £1,625 out of a £36 million budget over the nine years we are considering.”
“Why is John Edwards here at all?” asked Miss Wass. “The answer is Jamie Pyatt.”
“Over the nine years of this indictment Jamie Pyatt copies John Edwards into four emails.” John Edwards had only responded to two of them.
Miss Wass told the jury: “Four emails over nine years. The prosecution say that is enough to make you sure that John Edwards is guilty.”
There was no evidence, she said, of any direct contact between Mr Edwards and the two officials paid by Mr Pyatt – Broadmoor assistant Robert Neave and Surrey police officer Simon Quinn.
The email evidence in the case was a “drop in the ocean of his [Mr Edwards’] overall work.”
And most of the emails from Mr Pyatt had arrived at 8am in the morning or soon afterwards when Mr Edwards’s working day was hectic preparing for the morning editorial conference.
Miss Wass reminded the jury that Mr Edwards had said that had he known everything he knew now, he would have done things differently.
The barrister told the 12 jurors: “What he was saying in the nicest possible way was that he wish he had been less trusting of Jamie Pyatt.”
When Mr Edwards replied “OK, Jamie” to Mr Pyatt’s email about Broadmoor, Miss Wass said, he had not analysed its contents. “The reality is he just said yes to get this email off his books and get on with his work,” she said.
“He’s not the type of man who would cross a line to further his career.”
Instead, Miss Wass told the jury, her client was “a man under pressure trying to deal with simple requests, for modest funds, from a man he had worked with for 14 years and who he trusted.”
Mr Edwards, Mr Pyatt and four other current and former Sun journalists deny conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. The final closing speeches, for Graham Dudman, The Sun’s current Editorial Development Director, and John Troup, former East Anglia reporter, are scheduled to take place tomorrow.