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UK journalist, police officer face charges over alleged illegal payments

By Laura Smith-Spark and Claudia Rebaza, CNN
January 22, 2013 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)
Virginia Wheeler, defense editor at The Sun is accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
Virginia Wheeler, defense editor at The Sun is accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
  • A journalist and a former police officer are charged over alleged illegal payments
  • Prosecutors say The Sun paid Paul Flattley thousands of dollars for information
  • This included details about the tragic death of a 14-year-old girl, prosecutors say
  • Police began probing alleged media misconduct after a phone hacking scandal

London (CNN) -- A journalist at Britain's best-selling tabloid newspaper, The Sun, and a former London police officer will face criminal charges over alleged illegal payments for sensitive information, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Virginia Wheeler, defense editor at The Sun, and Paul Flattley are accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Flattley, who was a serving officer with the Metropolitan Police at the time, was allegedly paid at least £6,240 ($9,900) by The Sun between May 2008 and September 2011 in exchange for information, said Alison Levitt, chief legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions.

Flattley provided "information about the tragic death of a 14-year-old girl, as well as details about both suspects and victims of accidents, incidents and crimes," her statement said.

"This included, but was not limited to, information about high-profile individuals and those associated with them."

The two will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court in London at a date yet to be announced.

The charges stem from police inquiries in the wake of a phone hacking scandal at the now-defunct News of the World newspaper, owned -- alongside The Sun -- by the British subsidiary of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., News International.

Murdoch protege Rebekah Brooks and co-worker Andy Coulson, who went on to work for Prime Minister David Cameron, were charged in November with conspiracy over alleged illegal payments to a Ministry of Defence employee.

Brooks and Coulson are both former editors of the News of the World newspaper. Brooks also was editor of The Sun from 2003 to 2009 before becoming chief executive of News International.

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