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Sixth News Corp. Sun Journalist Charged in Bribe Probe

A News Corp. journalist became the sixth from its Sun tabloid charged with misconduct in a public office along with a press officer for U.K. tax officials as part of a police-led probe into wrongdoing at the company.

Clodagh Hartley, 38, a political editor at the Sun newspaper, and Jonathan Hall, a press officer for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, were charged and ordered to appear at a London court May 29, the Metropolitan Police Service said today in an e-mailed statement.

Hall was paid 17,475 pounds ($26,700) by the Sun newspaper between 2008 and 2011 for the unauthorized disclosure of information, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a separate statement. Hall’s partner, Marta Bukarewicz, was also charged.

News Corp. newspapers have been at the heart of wide-ranging investigations over the past three years which have uncovered phone hacking and bribery allegations at its two main tabloids. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World tabloid after revelations it had illegally accessed messages on the mobile phone of a murdered school girl.

“The information provided included details about government plans, including upcoming but as yet unannounced spending and policy decisions relating to the 2010 budget,” Gregor McGill, a lawyer at the CPS, said in a statement about the latest charges.

Tax Agency

Jan Marszewski, a press officer at HMRC, confirmed Hall works for the tax agency and declined to comment on the charges. Mary Kearney, a spokeswoman for London-based News International Ltd., declined to comment on the charges.

Hartley “is a longstanding member of the Sun team having joined the staff in 2000 and has worked in a variety of roles,” Mike Darcey, Chief Executive Officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, said in an e-mail to staff today, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public.

The charges against Hartley follow similar bribery allegations against other editorial staff, including the tabloid’s executive editor Fergus Shanahan and deputy editor Geoff Webster.

About 80 journalists and public officials have been arrested in connection with the criminal probes so far. Five former law enforcement officers have been sentenced to as much as two years in prison for passing on information to News Corp. U.K. tabloids, three of them in exchange for money.

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