Geoffrey Webster, who is standing trial over allegations of corrupt payments to public officials, was shown the 2009 letter, from Brooks to the then PCC head Baroness Buscombe in which it was said “new protocols” had been put in place at all News International publications. Webster told the court he had never seen the letter before, adding “we were never asked to carry out these actions.”
The deputy editor, who has been suspended since his arrest in 2012, told the jury that “all kinds of people” would be paid by the Sun for information, including “politicians who wanted something placed in the paper”. He told the court there could be a “social stigma” for being known as someone who had tipped off a newspaper so people “from all walks of life” would ask for cash payments.
Cash payments, the court was told, were so common that News International had held discussions with the Inland Revenue which led to an arrangement where the media company was paying 23% tax on each one.
He also told the jury that there were no guidelines, written or otherwise, about who it was legal to pay for information at the Sun or at any other newspaper he had worked at.
Earlier the court was read an interview with another defendant, Sun executive editor Fergus Shanahan, conducted by legal firm Linklaters, employed by News International. During the meeting Shanahan had said that while “You cannot pay the police for stories.. from time immemorial reporters had gone drinking with police and this was not corrupt just normal contact.”
Appearing in court with Webster and Shanahan are former Sun chief reporter John Kay, royal editor Duncan Larcombe and army officer John Hardy and his wife Claire.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.