Editor at 'The Sun' Charged Over Illegal Payments to Police

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Since Murdoch joined Twitter on Dec. 31, the News Corp. CEO has amassed more than 211,000 followers while lobbing 140-character grenades at enemies near and far. Lately he has taken an interest in the U.S. presidential race.

Geoff Webster will appear in court March 26 to faced the charges brought against him as part of Operation Elveden, the police probe launched in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

LONDON -- Geoff Webster, the deputy editor of Rupert Murdoch's The Sun newspaper, has been charged over alleged criminal offences relating to payments of $12,000 (£8,000) to two public officials, the crown prosecution service said March 20.

Webster was charged as part of the so-called "Operation Elveden," a police investigation into alleged illegal payments by members of the media to police and other officials.

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The probe is been carried out by London police, also known as Scotland Yard, in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

Webster was charged on Wednesday with two counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office during 2010 and 2011.

In a statement, prosecutors said the first offence relates to allegations that Webster, between July 2010 and August 2011, authorized payments totaling $9,800 (£6,500) "for information supplied by a public official to one of his journalists."

The second offence relates to an allegation that in November 2010, the editor authorized a payment of $2,265 (£1,500) "for information provided by an unknown public official."

Alison Levitt QC, principal legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions, said the charges come from Operation Elveden.

"We have concluded, following a careful review of the evidence, that Geoff Webster, who at the time of the alleged offending was deputy editor of the Sun newspaper, should be charged with two offences of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977," she said.

He is due to appear before Westminster magistrates' court March 26 March 2013.

According to reports on the BBC News and The Guardian websites, staff at the Sun were sent an internal memo by Mike Darcey, chief executive of News International, in which he described Webster as a "long standing and valued colleague" and that his "thoughts are with... his family at this time".

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Webster was one of five Sun employees arrested in February last year, one of whom, chief reporter John Kay, has already been charged.

Last year, the paper's former editor Rebekah Brooks, who was in charge between 2003 and 2009, and Kay were charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Webster brings the number of people charged under Operation Elveden to 12 in total to date.