Sun Reporter Charged Over Bribes for U.K. Royal Family Tips

A reporter at News Corp.’s Sun newspaper was charged with paying 23,000 pounds ($35,000) in bribes to a soldier and his wife for stories relating to the British royal family.

Duncan Larcombe, who was the Sun’s chief royal correspondent, made 34 payments from 2006 through 2008 to John Hardy and his wife, Claire, U.K. prosecutors said in a statement today. John Hardy was a sergeant at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst where Princes William and Harry were commissioned.

About 17 people have been charged in the police investigation into bribery allegations uncovered as part of a wider probe into wrongdoing at News Corp.’s U.K. publications. Prosecutors last week said Fergus Shanahan, the Sun’s executive editor, should be charged for approving bribes by a journalist at the tabloid, the U.K.’s largest newspaper.

Hardy, 43, his 39-year old wife and Larcombe, 37, were charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

A fourth suspect will also be charged with accepting a bribe at Sandhurst. Tracy Bell, 34, who was a pharmacy assistant at the facility’s medical center, received 1,250 pounds between October 2005 and July 2006 for information that featured in five Sun articles, prosecutors said.

All four are scheduled to appear at a London criminal court on May 8. Mary Kearney, a spokeswoman at News Corp.’s U.K. unit, declined to comment.

62nd Arrest

Police today arrested a 62nd suspect today in the bribery probe, known as Operation Elveden. Another suspect, a 32-year old man who was the 52nd person arrested in the investigation, has been told he won’t face any charges, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement today.

The Elveden case stems from another police investigation into the hacking of voicemails known as Operation Weeting. The hacking affair emerged in 2006 with the arrest of another royal reporter, Clive Goodman from News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid. Goodman was jailed in 2007 after pleading guilty.

The newspaper was shuttered in 2011 after it emerged that the practice was more widespread than the company had previously claimed.

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