Sun deputy editor Geoffrey Webster in court as lawyer complains of 'profoundly disturbing' charges

Geoffrey Cox QC, complained that explanations or reasons behind the charges had still not been given

The Sun’s deputy editor, Geoff Webster, appeared in court today accused of authorising illegal payments to public officials which totalled £8,000.

Mr Webster, who will appear at a further hearing in Southwark Crown Court on April 12, was surrounded by former and current colleagues from the News International tabloid.

Charges against the Sun executive, 53, from Goudhurst in Kent, are connected to Operation Elveden, Scotland Yard’s investigation into illegal payments and corruption of public officials.

Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said the first charge related to three occasions between July 2010 and August 2011 when Mr Webster is said to have authorised payments totalling £6,500 to a public official which subsequently led to the publication of seven stories in the Rupert Murdoch-owned title.

The second offences relates to an alleged authorised payment of £1,500 for information provided by an unknown public official. The payment is said to have taken place in November 2010.

Mr Webster’s counsel, Geoffrey Cox QC, said his client had endured “months and months” of uncertainty over potential criminal action,  telling the court  he found the charges “profoundly disturbing at this late stage.”.

Mr Cox said no explanation or reasons had been offered as to why Mr Webster had been charged. He told the court : “Mr Webster was engaged in nothing more than doing his job.”

He added that the only wrong The Sun’s deputy editor was said to have done was to approve payments. However the nature of the stories connected to the payments had not been revealed by the prosecuting authorities.

A direct attack by Mr Cox on the prosecution’s conduct claimed that the stories allegedly linked to the authorised payments were nothing more than “tittle-tattle and gossip” and that the identified stories had contained “nothing confidential”.

Those in court offering moral support to The Sun’s number two included the paper’s royal editor, Duncan Larcombe, crime reporter Anthony France, crime editor Mike Sullivan, news editor Chris Pharo, deputy defence editor Dave Willets, and the paper’s former managing editor, Graham Dudman.

Chief magistrate, Howard Riddle, ordered Mr Webster, who is on unconditional bail, to appear at a further court hearing next month.

:: In a separate case before Mr Webster was heard, former police sergeant James Bowes, from Steyning in West Sussex, was accused of selling details of police investigations to The Sun during 2010.

On one occasion Mr Bowes, 30, is alleged to have been paid £500.

He is formally charged with misconduct in public office that took place between April and July 2010.

Mr Bowes' bail was continued, and he too was ordered to appear at Southwark Crown Court on April 12.

So far 61 people have been arrested as a result of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Elveden, with 12 facing formal charges.

The investigation originated as part of Operation Weeting, which was set up in 2011 to investigate allegations of phone-hacking at the now-defunct News of the World.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on