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Sun executive editor faces charge over alleged corrupt payments

(FILE) Rupert Murdoch holds a copy of 'The Sun on Sunday' newspaper on February 26, 2012.

Story highlights

  • Editor at The Sun is accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office
  • Fergus Shanahan allegedly authorized two corrupt payments by a Sun journalist
  • Shanahan is due to appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 8
  • News International, which owns The Sun, declined to comment on the charge

An executive editor at The Sun newspaper, Britain's best-selling tabloid, is to be charged over alleged illegal payments to a public official, UK prosecutors said Thursday.

Fergus Shanahan is accused of conspiring with a public official and a journalist to commit misconduct in a public office while serving as an editor at The Sun, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

"It is alleged that in August 2006 and August 2007 Mr. Shanahan, in his role as an editor, (authorized) one of his journalists to make two payments totaling £7,000 ($10,700) to a public official for the disclosure of information," a CPS statement said.

Shanahan is due to appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 8.

The Sun is owned by News International, the UK subsidiary of media baron Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

News International declined to comment on the charge against Shanahan.

He is currently an executive editor, but it's not clear whether he was in the same role at the time of the alleged offense.

The charge results from an investigation set up by London's Metropolitan Police into alleged corrupt payments by journalists to public officials.

Known as Operation Elveden, the inquiry is running in parallel with an investigation into claims that UK journalists hacked people's voice mails to get stories.

They were set up in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that led to the closure of News International's Sunday tabloid, the News of the World, in 2011.

Dozens of arrests have been made in connection with the two investigations.