The Prime minister starts every day by reading The Sun a jury was told yesterday. The claim came during the testimony of the tabloid’s former chief reporter John Kay, who when challenged by the judge about how he would know that replied “I can assure you of that”.
Kay, 71, who was the most senior reporter at The Sun and has been described as a “Fleet Street legend”, is on trial over allegations that he paid a civil servant £100,000 for confidential information about the armed forces. Earlier the journalist had explained his close relationship with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) stating that he would place “good news” stories for them and even send draft articles to the MOD press office for approval”.
The defendant told the court that both he and The Sun were “pro-army” and “supported the war effort”. Kay said he also had sources that were “senior military men” and he would never have printed anything that might be “of help to the enemy” or “damage national security”. He also confirmed he always informed the MOD about stories he was about to publish so they would be in a position to deal with follow up enquiries from other newspapers.
Defence counsel also asked the defendant about his attitude to paying public officials for information. Kay responded by saying that in his 50 year career as a journalist he had never been told that paying a public official was against the law and had never been informed by the legal team at News International it was a criminal offence. Asked if he believed that the civil servant, Bettina Jordan-Barber, was committing a crime when she took payments from The Sun he replied “absolutely not”, although “to the best of his knowledge” Jordan-Barber was the only public official he ever paid.
Kay also claimed that Jordan-Barber’s husband, a senior army officer was aware his wife was being paid for information and once gave the journalist a tip-off himself, although not for money.
As well as Kay the Old Bailey jury is considering charges against Sun royal reporter Duncan Larcombe; executive editor Fergus Shanahan and deputy editor Geoffrey Webster. Also on trial are former army officer John Hardy and his wife Claire. All of the charges relate to payments for stories.
Asked about his future, Kay told the court that he understood that The Sun was keeping his job open for him and he hoped to re-join the paper if he was acquitted.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.