Clodagh Hartley tells how senior colleague thought editor 'didn't have the balls' to run Budget leak story in full - Press Gazette

Clodagh Hartley tells how senior colleague thought editor 'didn't have the balls' to run Budget leak story in full

Sun Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley told a court today how a senior colleague told her former editor Dominic Mohan "didn't have the balls" to run a Budget leak story in full.

Clodagh Hartley, 40, also told how the senior colleague – who cannot be named – bullied her and made her feel "junior and lowly".

Hartley is accused of arranging payments of £17,475 to HMRC press officer Jonathan Hall over more than three years in exchange for stories.

Hall, 43, is alleged to have convinced his girlfriend, Marta Bukarewicz, 45, to let him use her account for receiving thousands of pounds from News International in an attempt to hide his tracks.

Hartley and Bukarewicz deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Today, the journalist continued giving evidence of a story, "Don't fudge it", which was printed on Budget day, 24 March 2010.

It contained accurate predictions about Chancellor Alistair Darling's speech, including increases in fuel, alcohol and tobacco duty as well as the abolition of stamp duty for some properties.

Hartley said the information – based on "defensive lines" to be used by HMRC press officers – was supplied by Hall.

But she was disappointed when the potentially "award-winning" scoop was edited down to a few paragraphs in a spread focusing on the results of a Sun readers poll.

She told of a conversation with the senior colleague who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Hartley said: "[Colleague] said that Dominic Mohan did not have the balls to run it, which meant he did not trust that I had the correct information.

"He did not want to put details into the newspaper which were potentially incorrect.

"This is the conversation I had with [collleague]. The phrase I have just used was [colleague] opinion of why Dominic Mohan had not run it, having spoken to Dominic Mohan several times at length the evening we had those details."

Hartley said in internal emails about how she had "the entire Budget", although she told jurors this was "a bit of an overbold claim, as I feel I'm fighting for my job".

Hartley was asked about the pressurised environment on The Sun's political team.

The court heard Hartley had appealed an unfair and overly critical appraisal of her work by the senior colleague, and won a finding of bullying against him by an independent adjudicator.

"Pretty much after I started, he [Hartley's senior colleague] was bullying – I can't put it any other way.

"I thought the exclusives I got helped, because that was the currency he [Hartley's senior colleague] seemed to want…I was quite frightened of him, but I tried to maintain a professional front and carry on."

Hartley also said she had "no idea it was in any way wrong" to request payments for Hall.

She was told to change her source's name on The Sun's payment system, duly entering Marta Bukarewic, "in the same way as Jonathan's details had earlier been inputted".

Asked why she thought bosses had requested the name-change, Hartley replied: "I didn't give it much thought, beyond anybody could see who was on the system – anybody being fellow journalists."

Alexandra Healy QC, for Hartley, went through articles allegedly containing confidential information leaked by Hall.

Hartley admitted Hall was the source for some stories, insisting her articles were in the public interest.

Others were based on information already in the public domain or ordinary press releases and briefings.

Hall has accepted he supplied stories for which he was paid.



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