Rupert Murdoch's Sun Journalists Cleared in Bribery Trial

The Sun Newspaper - Generic Image - 2011
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One had been accused of paying a military source for leaks about Prince William and Prince Harry.

Four journalists at the U.K.'s most widely read tabloid paper, The Sun, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, have been cleared of paying public officials for stories.

The jury delivered the verdict in London on Friday following a trial that has lasted for two months.

The paper's ex-chief reporter, John Kay, 71, alongside former royal editor Duncan Larcombe, 39, were both cleared of wrongdoing over their dealings with two military sources. Kay had been accused of paying an official at the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence $150,000 for stories. Larcombe was accused of paying a Gulf War veteran more than $34,000 for leaks about Prince Harry and Prince William, who both attended the military academy Sandhurst, where he worked.

Former deputy editors Fergus Shanahan, 60, and Geoff Webster, 55, were both cleared over accusations that they had signed off on the payments.

The trial was the result of what is known in Britain as "Operation Elveden," a police probe into allegations of inappropriate payments to public officials.

The issue of payments for stories also came up in the phone-hacking trial last year. In June, former Sun and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was found not guilty on one count of a conspiracy to pay public officials and all other counts.

A retrial is planned for later this year of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and former royal editor Clive Goodman on two bribery counts related to royal phone directories after the hacking-trial jury failed to reach a verdict on them. The charges said that they conspired to pay public officials — namely palace cops — for the directories.