A journalist was sacked and later arrested after his employers brought criminal charges against him over mileage expenses, reports the Press Gazette.
Former sports editor for the Barnsley Chronicle Andrew Lodge, 45, pleaded guilty to claiming mileage worth £447.32 after taking a bus to cover four away matches involving Barnsley Football club.
In his defence he said that had he claimed all the expenses allowable in the staff handbook and that he could have charged his employers £1,200, including payment for meals and hotel stays, which he did not claim.
Lodge told the Press Gazette that it was also “custom and practice” for journalists to subsidise their comparaitively low wages via mileage expenses. His salary was £22,000 a year and he was sacked from his job in November 2011.
After pleading guilty to the fraud charge, he was sentenced to 60 hours community service, an £85 fine and asked to repay the £447.
Andrew Harrod, who has been editor of the Barnsley Chronicle since last October, said: “Our evidence was it involved far more than just four matches in the couple of months before I became editor. I believe he was spoken to about it in 2006 and told he could no longer do this.
“We are disappointed that it’s got to this stage. But we can’t turn a blind eye to what is effectively theft. No company can do that, regardless of whatever has gone on in the years before when it was a different editorship and a different management regime.”
Harrod said it was not his decision to press criminal charges.