The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were in buoyant mood this afternoon, as the trial of former Sun journalist Clodagh Hartley ended with her acquittal, and she “walked free from the Old Bailey after a jury found her not guilty of paying for leaks from a corrupt tax office official”. The official concerned had already pleaded guilty.
The Great Guido was in no doubt as to what had happened, proclaiming “Sun Victory In Court”. But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea – it was bollocks. For starters, although the Sun and News UK were not in the dock, they were effectively on trial too, and came out of proceedings with their reputations in tatters.
Ms Hartley has no intention of going back into journalism, and certainly not with the Sun. This was not hard to understand, given she was shopped by her own employer: “She said she had no idea her conduct could be questioned by police and hit out at the decision of the Sun’s then-publisher, News International, to hand over swaths of data to the Met. ‘I thought that sources would be protected’ Hartley said”.
Yes, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun was prepared to betray its own staff, and the paper’s sources, if it thought it would better serve the company’s interests. Some victory that is, eh, Fawkes folks? And, as the man said, there’s more: “Hartley had told jurors about the poisonous atmosphere working within the Sun’s Westminster team, describing how a senior colleague bullied her and stole credit for her work”.
Until the trial ended, it was not possible to know the identity of this “senior colleague”, although anyone who wanted to know already knew. “The paper’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, ‘had succeeded in stealing contacts’ from her, while ‘bullying’ and constant demand for exclusive stories meant she was forced to take time off to deal with the stress, she testified”.
Counsel for Newton Dunn took issue with this view, but sadly for them and their client, Ms Hartley had already had a complaint of bullying upheld against him. Now the whole world knows that the Sun’s non-bullying political editor, well, isn’t non-bullying at all. The likelihood of collective raised eyebrows at the BBC, ITN and Sky News becoming “we’ll ask someone else to appear, thanks” is all too real now.
Moreover, Newton Dunn’s behaviour was central to Ms Hartley’s defence. He is still in post, but for how long? And who is going to want to work as part of that team, given his presence and all the talk of a “poisonous atmosphere”? There was no victory for the Sun today, and the only reason The Great Guido span the trial’s outcome that way was to prostrate himself before Creepy Uncle Rupe.
The Fawkes rabble – sell-outs singing for their supper. Another fine mess.