The Guardian has recommended that the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) issues guidelines on the payment of public officials after Sun journalists were cleared of paying off public officials for information on Friday.
In an editorial piece, the publication said the "jury were right to clear Sun quartet" John Kay, Duncan Larcombe, Fergus Shanahan and Geoff Webster over paying public officials for stories.
But the Guardian accused the Sun of failing to take responsibility for the actions of its staff: "There was a nasty taste at the trial – not for the first time with this company – of the small people being thrown to the wolves while the big people, living expensive lives far away, were sheltered."
The piece also expressed concern at the legal vulnerability of whistleblowers: “There are a number of public officials who have served, or are serving, jail sentences as a result of News Corp’s behaviour and the betrayal of their relationship with the Sun. Public servants shouldn’t sell stories about the things they see in the course of their duties.
“No one welcomes the thought of their nurse or police or prison officer selling personal information to the press. Genuine whistle-blowers act from a desire to expose injustice, not to make a few quid on the side. Yet there is something uncomfortable about journalists walking free while their sources, betrayed by their own company, do the time.”
The verdict comes days after the newspaper named Katharine Viner as its first ever editor-in-chief.