U.K. Cops End Bribe Probe That Embroiled News Corp. Journalists

  • Only two journalists convicted of bribing public officials
  • Elveden probe closed with decision not to charge prison guard

London police put an end to a sweeping investigation of bribery of public officials that was closely tied to a probe of phone hacking by journalists at News Corp.’s U.K. unit.

Operation Elveden was brought to a close with a decision not to charge a prison officer who’d been arrested in September, the Metropolitan Police Service said Friday. The move is the latest sign that officials are slowly winding down probes into media excesses that sparked widespread outrage five years ago.

“Elveden ends with the convictions of 34 people,” MPS Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan said in an e-mailed statement. “They include nine police officers and 21 public officials, who all breached the trust of the public by leaking confidential information for nothing other than financial gain.”

While the probe added to public outrage over the behavior of the country’s tabloid press, only two journalists were convicted of paying bribes to government officials.

The investigations into phone hacking and bribery at News. Corp. tabloids began in January 2011 and led to hundreds of arrests, the closure of the News of the World and the imprisonment of Andy Coulson, a former adviser to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. 

In December, prosecutors said they wouldn’t pursue corporate charges against News Corp. related to the scandals. The only chance critics of News Corp. and the tabloid press have for a further review is if the government opens the second phase of the Leveson inquiry, a judicial investigation of media ethics and practices.

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