March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Three former law-enforcement officers were sentenced to as much as two years in jail after admitting taking bribes from News Corp.’s Sun tabloid, the first to confess to criminal charges in a probe of wrongdoing at the company’s U.K. newspapers.
Former prison guard Richard Trunkfield was sentenced to 16 months in jail for accepting 3,350 pounds ($5,000) in bribes from the Sun for information about Jon Venables, who was convicted of killing two-year-old James Bulger in 1993, Judge Adrian Fulford said today. Alan Tierney, an ex-police officer in Surrey, got 10 months for selling details about celebrities to Sun journalists.
“This country has long prided itself on the integrity of its public officials and cynical acts of betrayal of that high standard have a profoundly corrosive effect,” Fulford said during Trunkfield’s and Tierney’s sentencing at a hearing in London today.
News Corp.’s publications in the U.K. have been investigated for phone hacking and bribery since revelations in 2011 that the company’s News of the World tabloid illegally accessed messages on the mobile phone of a murdered school girl during the police investigation. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in response to the scandal and dozens of people have been arrested in police probes.
A second former police officer, who can’t be identified, was sentenced to two years in prison for misconduct in a public office today.
The Sun is Britain’s best-selling daily and the main focus of the bribery investigation. Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit and a past editor of both the Sun and the News of the World, has been charged with both phone hacking and bribery.
The Bulger case was one of the most notorious murders in British history as Venables and another boy were only 10 years old when they abducted and murdered the toddler. Venables was imprisoned at a youth offenders’ institution until being released in 2001. The case caused public protests and his identity was changed to protect him.
“This, I fear, is a case of some seriousness,” Fulford said in reference to Trunkfield. “His actions could have proved highly damaging to the prison service.”
Tierney sold the Sun a story on Ronnie Wood, a member of the Rolling Stones, and the mother of soccer player John Terry.
April Casburn, a senior London police detective, was sentenced on Feb. 1 to 15 months in prison for trying to sell information about the phone-hacking probe to the News of the World. She was the first person sentenced in the cases.
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