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.

News
Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London
news

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Arts and Entertainment
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game