LONDON (AFP) – The chief foreign correspondent for Rupert Murdoch's top-selling British tabloid The Sun has been charged for allegedly paying public officials for information, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Journalist Nick Parker faces three counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office relating to alleged payments to a prison officer and a police officer between 2007 and 2009.
The prison officer, Lee Brockhouse, also faces two related charges of misconduct and conspiracy to commit misconduct, said Gregor McGill, a senior lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The allegations state that between April 2007 and October 2009, The Sun paid ??1,750 (2,000 euros, $2,700) to Brockhouse for information about the movement of prisoners, prison procedures and methods used by prisoners to smuggle items into jail.
Brockhouse, who worked at Swaleside prison in Kent, east of London, is also accused of providing similar information to the rival People newspaper for ??900.
Parker also faces two charges of conspiring with an unnamed police officer to commit misconduct in public office in March-April 2009 and December 2009.
The CPS said it had decided not to charge another journalist arrested over related allegations.
An internal message to staff at News International, Murdoch's British newspaper division, confirmed proceedings had been dropped against John Sturgis, the deputy news editor of The Sun.
News International chief executive Mike Darcey said in the message that he was disappointed at the charges brought against Parker and said he would be given legal support.
The police investigation into alleged bribery of public officials, dubbed Operation Elveden, was launched following the phone-hacking scandal at Murdoch's News of the World tabloid.
The weekly was shut down in July 2011 after it emerged it had illegally accessed the mobile phone voicemails of hundreds of high-profile figures, including a missing teenager who was later found murdered.