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News Corp. Tabloid Executive Editor Faces U.K. Bribe Case

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Executive Editor at News Corp.’s Sun Faces Bribery Charges
The Sun is Britain’s best-selling daily newspaper and the main focus of the bribery probe. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- The executive editor at News Corp.’s Sun tabloid will be charged with authorizing bribes to public officials uncovered as part of a wider probe into wrongdoing at the company’s U.K. newspapers.

Fergus Shanahan, a 24-year-veteran of the Sun, authorized a journalist to make two payments totaling 7,000 pounds ($10,600) to a public official in exchange for information between 2006 and 2007, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement.

News Corp. publications in the U.K. have been at the center of investigations into 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. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the newspaper in response to the scandal.

The Sun is Britain’s best-selling daily newspaper and the main focus of the bribery probe, while the now defunct News of the World is at the heart of the phone-hacking scandal. Shanahan is the 13th person charged as part of the bribery probe, including Sun journalists, police officers and prison guards.

“We will be offering Fergus every support as he goes through the legal process and we will not prejudge the outcome,” Mike Darcey, chief executive officer of News Corp.’s News International unit, said in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. “I’m grateful to everyone on the Sun for their continued professionalism, delivering a world-class paper in these testing times.”

644 Employees

As executive editor, the 58-year-old Shanahan was in charge of 644 editorial employees on the Sun’s staff.

The Sun’s crime editor, Mike Sullivan, was cleared of any wrongdoing on April 2 by U.K. prosecutors in relation to the investigation. Sullivan and Shanahan were arrested on the same day in January 2012 as part of Operation Elveden, the police name for the bribery probe.

Four former law enforcement officers have been sentenced to as much as two years in prison for giving information to News Corp. U.K. journalists in exchange for bribes.

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 phone hacking and bribery.

Trinity Mirror Plc’s Sunday Mirror was dragged into the U.K. phone-hacking scandal in March as police arrested four journalists linked to the newspaper, opening a new front in the investigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

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

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