The defence counsel for the former deputy editor of The Sun was warned about making “political” comments in court. The presiding judge, Mr Justice Saunders was responding to a remark about cuts in the royal navy made by Vincent Coughlin QC “not being exclusive to anyone”, and reminded the barrister not to express such opinions “especially with a general election coming up”.
The Old Bailey trial, which relates to alleged payments to public officials by staff at the tabloid newspaper, had earlier seen the jury being read a number of articles from The Sun which the prosecution allege had been sourced from a MoD civil servant Bettina Jordan-Barber in return for cash payments totalling £100,000. The articles, which included stories about sexual harassment in the army and the private lives of military staff were published between 2004 and 2012.
Shanahan’s lawyer suggested, however, that his client had only approved two payments to Jordan-Barber with the majority having been authorised by the paper’s then editor Rebekah Brooks. The court also heard about a dispute between the defence and the prosecution about material relating to Brooks that had been removed from the initial evidence folder given to them by the prosecution.
Mr Justice Saunders assured the jury that “there is nothing underhand going on, the prosecution had removed material they thought was irrelevant and the defence wishes you to have it because they think it is relevant. That will be a matter that is entirely for you to decide”, adding “and I may have something to say about it later”.
Also on trial with Shanahan are The Sun’s former Chief Reporter John Kay, deputy editor Geoffrey Webster, Royal editor Duncan Larcombe as well as an army officer and his wife, John and Claire Hardy.
While the last few days of the case have consisted of documents being read to the jury Mr Justice Saunders told them “tomorrow we will be doing what normally happens in court, witnesses appear and barristers ask questions. We will be reverting to type”.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.