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News UK denies new expenses regime will lead to the naming of confidential sources

By Darren Boyle

Sun journalists have been ordered to name “public officials” they meet on any expense claims while working on stories leading to fears over the protection of confidential sources.

An email sent from Sun news editor Steve Kennedy has been leaked to Exaro, the investigative website, outlining the new expenses regime.

Journalists at the paper fear that the names of confidential sources and whistleblowers will be released to the authorities.

According to the email:

  • You have to declare whether the person you have entertained is a public official
  • You have to name the person you have entertained
  • If you want to keep the name of the person confidential you have to seek approval from Richard Barun *BEFORE* submitting the expense form.

A second email from Richard Barun explained the new expenses regime updated as a result of the News Corp global compliance review.  

He said the new system “will no doubt create challenges”.

Under the new system, anyone engaged in the public sector from the Queen to a librarian will have to be named if they have received any hospitality.

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Any hospitality worth more than £100 will have to be approved in advance.

Reporters have been warned that cash payments for stories will require prior approval from the managing editor’s office.

“You should indicate whether the person paid was a government-related individual or not. . . including detail as to their exact role/department if they are government-related.”

New restrictions have also been introduced on paying local fixers abroad or border guards to travel quicker through passport control.

Reporters have been banned from paying off foreign government officials “even if it’s the local way of doing things”.

The email continues: “If you believe that naming a particular contact or fixer in an expense claim on the Newspeople expenses system would breach confidentially or put an individual at risk, please ensure that you speak to the managing editor’s office to explain the circumstances in full *PRIOR* to entertaining.

“If you can provide appropriate justification you will be given permission from the managing editor’s office to keep the name of your contact(s) confidential.”

A spokesperson for News UK said: "No News UK employee is obliged to name a contact on their expense claims where confidentiality is required."  

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