A leading media lawyer has told a packed church how he balances his faith with working for The Sun newspaper.

Justin Walford spoke at St Peter’s Church in Brighton yesterday about how he balances his faith with working for a tabloid newspaper and how he felt it was important that there were Christians working in the media.

The former University of Sussex graduate, who regularly attends the 8am service at St Peter’s, told the congregation that despite many people viewing his company as an “empire of darkness”, he and fellow Christians at the paper were allowed weekly faith meetings.

Mr Walford, who gave evidence to the Leveson inquiry and at the ongoing phone hacking trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, has also worked for Express newspapers, including on the Daily Star and Sunday Star.

Mr Walford, who describes himself as not a Sun reader by nature, told the phone hacking trial that Mrs Brooks was a “demanding editor” but he was never asked to give advice about phone hacking and never felt under any financial pressure while checking stories for legal pitfalls.

He told the congregation yesterday that he had taken an interest in religion when he was a student in Brighton in the 70s but returned to “look again” at his faith following the break-up of his first marriage.

Quizzed by his friend and St Peter’s vicar Archie Coates over what a Christian was doing working for the Sun and Sun on Sunday, he talked of the influence of the media on millions of peoples’ lives.

He said: “It influences people’s lives and I think it’s important that Christians go into areas that affect millions of people’s lives.

“Is it more questionable to be working in a bank?

“I don’t believe that Christians should surrender the media.

“The media is absolutely vital and it’s really important that Christians are there.”

He went on to describe how News International allowed him and other Christians at the paper to meet.

He said: “We have a very strong Christian group in News International.

“It’s not large by any means but we meet every week.

“Murdoch is seen as an empire of darkness but they allow us to meet every week.”