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Bribery charges for ex-deputy editor of Britain's Sun

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The former deputy editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned British tabloid The Sun is being charged with authorising payments to public officials in return for information, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Geoff Webster was arrested a year ago as part of Operation Elveden, the police investigation into illegal payments to public officials set up after the phone-hacking scandal.

Webster will be charged with two offences of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office, a statement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

"The first offence relates to allegations that Mr Webster, between July 2010 and August 2011, authorised payments totalling £6,500 (7,600 euros, $9,800) for information supplied by a public official to one of his journalists," the statement said.

"The second offence relates to an allegation that in November 2010, Mr Webster authorised a payment of £1,500 for information provided by an unknown public official."

He will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on March 26.

A number of other journalists working for The Sun have been arrested as part of Operation Elveden.

And in January, its defence editor Virginia Wheeler was charged with paying a policeman more than £6,450 for information, including details about the death of a 15-year-old girl.

The police investigation runs alongside Operation Weeting, the probe into phone-hacking sparked by the scandal at Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World weekly tabloid.

The scandal, in which journalists illegally accessed the voicemails of hundreds of celebrities, public figures and victims of crime, has also led to an overhaul of press regulation.

Political leaders agreed a new regulatory system earlier this week although newspapers warn it threatens freedom of speech and have yet to indicate whether they will sign up.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130320/bribery-charges-ex-deputy-editor-britains-sun