Ex-News Corp. Tabloid Editor Facing U.K. Bribery Charges

The deputy editor of News Corp.’s Sun tabloid will be charged over bribes paid to public officials for news as part of a wide-ranging probe into wrongdoing at the company’s U.K. newspapers.

Geoff Webster faces two counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in relation to authorized payments by reporters to public officials totaling 8,000 pounds ($12,000) in two separate incidents between 2010 and 2011, the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement today. He would be the 12th person charged in the probe, known as Operation Elveden.

The bribery investigation grew out of another into phone hacking by News Corp. journalists, and has led to more than 60 arrests. The Sun is Britain’s best-selling daily 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.

The CPS weighed whether “the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings,” Alison Levitt, the principal legal adviser to the U.K. Director of Public Prosecutions, said in today’s statement. Webster is scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court March 26, she said.

Webster was the deputy editor of the newspaper at the time of the alleged incidents, prosecutors said. He remains in the role according to a News International spokesman.

A News International spokeswoman declined to comment on the charges.

Three former law enforcement officers and a public official pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Sun journalists on March 8, the first people to confess in the bribery investigation. John Kay, the Sun’s former chief reporter, pleaded not guilty on the same day.

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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