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News Corp. Tabloid Bribery Suspect Cleared by U.K. Prosecutors

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Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- A public official suspected of taking bribes from journalists at News Corp.’s Sun tabloid in Britain won’t be charged in the widening investigation, U.K. prosecutors said.

The person, who wasn’t named, was arrested last year as part of Operation Elveden, the probe into corrupt payments by reporters and editors at News Corp. titles, the Crown Prosecution Service said today in a statement.

The person “has been informed today that no further action is being taken in relation to these allegations of misconduct in public office,” Alison Levitt, the agency’s principal legal adviser, said in the statement.

The probe, which has triggered more than 50 arrests, has focused on the Sun, Britain’s best-selling daily tabloid, and the News of the World, which Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed last year to help quell public anger over a related phone-hacking scandal. New York-based News Corp. has spent at least $315 million in civil settlements with victims, legal fees and other costs related to the wrongdoing.

The unidentified public official was being considered for charges in relation to three other people who were charged on Nov. 20, including Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, and Bettina Jordan Barber, a defense ministry employee. Andy Coulson, who edited the News of the World, was charged in the bribery probe the same day.

Brooks is accused of paying 100,000 pounds ($157,500) to a defense ministry employee, while Coulson allegedly swapped cash for a palace phone directory for the royal family and their staff, the CPS said in November. The CPS didn’t provide details of what the unidentified official was suspected of.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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