John Edwards, picture editor of the country’s best-selling paper from 2002 to 2013, said he was so busy running a £4 million picture desk budget that he had to trust senior members of staff when they emailed him asking for money.
Under cross-examination Mr Edwards accepted that on some occasions his picture desk had authorise cash payments for a reporter to pay his sources for information, rather than for a picture.
Oliver Glasgow, for the Crown, asked Mr Edwards, giving his second day of evidence: “What checks did you make to ensure the money was actually going to the right source?”
Mr Edwards checked he was being asked about requests for money from district reporter Jamie Pyatt, standing trial alongside him, who asked for money for a police officer and a Broadmoor worker. Mr Edwards replied: “Hardly any”
He told Kingston Crown Court: “When I was growing up on the picture desk, Jamie was the news editor for two years. Anything he’s doing does not need policing by me.”
Mr Glasgow pressed: “But it’s money; from Jamie Pyatt requesting money to pay sources?”
Mr Edwards replied, “Correct… This wasn’t a regular occurrence, this was very rare… I never saw any problem there.”
Mr Edwards said he did not know the identity of the reporter’s sources.
He repeatedly told the court he did not have time to read or analyse the four email chains from Mr Pyatt requesting money he was copied into or sent. “On a very busy day on the picture desk, you can’t forensically examine everything,” Mr Edwards protested.
“You have to have trust. I was happy to sign off payments for staff reporters. If the chief reporter come to me or the crime editor come to me… it was OK. I trusted these people implicitly.”
Asked why he had given a no comment interview to the police after his arrest, Mr Edwards said he had been following legal advice.
“I was like a rabbit before the headlights,” he said, telling the court that 13 policemen had entered his home and arrested him in front of his daughter and his wife. “I think I was as helpful as I could have been on that day, in the state I was in.”
The court was read a character statement from Arthur Edwards, The Sun’s veteran royal photographer and father of the defendant. Mr Edwards said that while at the paper his son was under intense pressure, managing a team of 25 photographers and had “an editor who was not always rational but was always demanding.”
Mr Edwards said: “Under the editorship of Rebekah Brooks, failure was never an option.”
“John knew he was only one step away from losing his job… despite this intolerable pressure, John was always calm… he maintained his dignity while others lost theirs.” He said his son was completely honest.
Mr Edwards and five other past and present Sun journalists deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office. The case continues.
This post originally appeared on the Hacked Off blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks