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U.K. Charges A 'Sun' Editor as Rupert Murdoch Visits London

Rupert Murdoch

The News Corp. boss will reportedly meet with independent directors who must confirm the appointment of the new editor of the London Times.

LONDON -- British prosecutors said Tuesday that they would charge an editor of The Sun, the U.K. tabloid that is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., with conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

The charges against Sun defense editor Virginia Wheeler are part of an investigation here into payments to public officials in return for information, which is tied to the phone hacking scandal.

"We have concluded, following a careful review of the evidence, that former Metropolitan Police Service police constable, Paul Flattley, and Virginia Wheeler, a journalist at The Sun newspaper, should be charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office," Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement. "It is alleged that ... Flattley, who at the time was a serving police constable with the Metropolitan Police Service, was paid at least $6,340 (£4,000) (in the form of checks) and $3,885 (£2,450) (in cash) by The Sun newspaper in exchange for information provided in breach of the terms of his employment."

The information included information about the death of a 15-year-old girl, details about the suspects and victims of other accidents and crimes.

The charges bring the number of people charged under this strand of the police prove to eight.

The news came as the Guardian reported that Murdoch had traveled to London for meetings, including with independent directors who must approve his company's appointment of a new editor for the Times of London. A source confirmed Murdoch's presence in the British capital.

Late last week, News Corp. named John Witherow temporary, or acting, editor of the Times and Martin Ivens to the same role at the Sunday Times, but without the approval of the independent directors. There was a disagreement over the future of the papers, which the company has signaled are in need of financial improvements, meaning likely cost cuts.

The independent directors were installed in 1981 when Murdoch bought the papers to keep them separate and independent from interference.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai