A former weekly newspaper sports editor has been ordered to perform 60 hours community service after admitting false expense claims.
Andrew Lodge, who lost his job at the Barnsley Chronicle last year, admitted claiming car mileage expenses worth £447.32 in respect of four journeys on which he had actually travelled by bus.
When the false claims came to light he was fired by the paper after 25 years’ service and the police called in.
Mr Lodge pleaded guilty at Barnsley Magistrates Court to an offence of fraudulently claiming £447.32 from the paper and was ordered to pay £532.32 in compensation and costs as well as carrying out the unpaid work.
During the hearing, District Judge John Foster was told that Mr Lodge did not claim meals or overnight stays in hotels to which he was entitled under his contract, and did not take days off to which he was entitled.
Hannah Walker, prosecuting, said that when the paper confronted Mr Lodge about the claims he admitted he had travelled on the bus and said he felt ‘terrible’ about it.
David Lawson, defending, said members of the Lodge family had given more than 125 years service to the Chronicle and that Mr Lodge, 45, had taken over sports editor from his father Keith.
He said although Mr Lodge had wrongly claimed mileage he had not claimed ‘subsistence’ allowances for working long hours away, including hotel bills, bus fares or meals.
He added : “There is an issue as to whether or not the paper has actually suffered a loss, and he didn’t claim time off in lieu during the season to which he was entitled.
“He has never been a greedy man, He was not highly paid and earned just £22,000 but he has lost this job he loved because of the stupid mistake he slipped into.”
Judge Foster said: “It seems to me that the charge to which you have pleaded guilty accurately reflects the amount and totality of your offence in this regard.”