The memo from Mike Darcey (above) was a testament to France's popularity and professionalism:
Anthony is a hugely popular and highly respected member of The Sun team and has been an integral part of the newsroom since 2004....
He joined us after stints on the Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard and Sunday Mirror and almost immediately scored one of the biggest scoops of the year. At the height of concerns over security in The Houses of Parliament, Anthony revealed how lax security still was with the classic front page 'Sun 'Bomber' In Commons'....
Since then he has concentrated on covering crime issues and security, often asking difficult questions of Britain's police chiefs. He broke a string of big stories including the Sally Anne Bowman murder and the John Worboys serial rapist case. Despite being at the centre of a police inquiry, Anthony covered the Oscar Pistorius murder trial and Nelson Mandela's state funeral in South Africa...
We will continue to support Anthony in every way we can and our thoughts are with him during this incredibly tough time.
Judge Pontius was clearly equally impressed by the reporter, describing him as essentially a decent man of solid integrity, who had written stories of undoubted public interest.
In hissentencing remarks the judge acknowledged that paying people for stories was a well-known aspect of the way the Sun worked, that there was nothing wrong with this if it did not involve encouraging people to abuse a trusted public position, and that there was a recognised procedure for payments:
The defendant was required...to present a request for payment to his editor. It follows, first, that payment of a fee, and determination of the appropriate sum, were matters for editorial discretion and not for the defendant and, secondly, there was no handing over of a grubby envelope produced from the defendant's pocket in a dark corner of a pub.
The defendant, holding a fairly junior post at the Sun, was therefore following an accepted procedure that doubtless had existed for some time, and doing so in relation to a source...he had inherited from a colleague and to whom payments had previously been made.
The Sun has also protested loud and long about Operation Elveden - most of whose evidence, remember, was handed over by News International's management and standards committee - and the persecution of journalists doing their job.
So how could it be that in mitigation before sentencing today Anthony Keeling QC told the judge that there was an overwhelming likelihood that France would lose his job and that News UK had indicated that it would not bear the costs of the prosecution?
In ordering France to bear those costs, the judge said he assumed that News UK would pick up the bill and that if it declined to do so, France should return to court to seek a review.
As Keeling said:
There is a sense it is Mr France, who held the most junior full-time position it was possible to hold at the Sun, who stands to be punished for the whole system.