Skip to main content

4 charged in case of alleged payments for stories about royals

By Andrew Carey and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
April 24, 2013 -- Updated 1606 GMT (0006 HKT)
The new British Newspaper 'The Sun on Sunday' on February 26, 2012 in London.
The new British Newspaper 'The Sun on Sunday' on February 26, 2012 in London.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four are charged in connection with alleged payments for stories involving the royal family
  • One is Duncan Larcombe, royal editor at The Sun, Britain's best-selling tabloid newspaper
  • Two others worked at a military academy while Princes William and Harry were there
  • UK police have been investigating claims of corrupt payments for information by the media

London (CNN) -- Four people in the United Kingdom, including a journalist at The Sun newspaper, have been charged in a police probe into alleged payments for newspaper stories involving the royal family, British prosecutors said Wednesday.

They will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court on May 8. Their cases stem from Operation Elveden, a police probe into "allegations involving the unlawful provision of information by public officials to journalists."

One of the men charged is Duncan Larcombe, royal editor at The Sun, Britain's best-selling tabloid and part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire. He faces a charge of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

John Hardy and Claire Hardy, who worked at the Sandhurst military academy during the time Princes Harry and William were based there, also are charged with conspiracy to commit public misconduct in office. John Hardy served as a color sergeant at Sandhurst and Claire Hardy is his wife.

"It is alleged that from 10 February 2006 to 15 October 2008, 34 payments were made to either John Hardy or Claire Hardy totaling over £23,000 for stories relating mainly to the Royal Family or matters at Sandhurst," prosecutors said in a statement.

The fourth is Tracy Bell, a Defense Ministry pharmacy assistant at the Sandhurst medical center, who is charged with one count of misconduct in public office.

"It is alleged that Tracy Bell received £1,250 between 17 October 2005 and 7 July 2006 relating to five articles published in The Sun regarding matters at Sandhurst," the prosecutors said.

London's Metropolitan Police is running Operation Elveden parallel to a probe into claims that UK journalists hacked people's voice mails to get stories.

The two investigations were set up in the wake of the scandal over an allegation that in 2002, the voice mail of a missing 13-year-old girl, Milly Dowler, was hacked by an investigator working for the News of the World newspaper before she was found murdered.

The furor 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 inquiries.

An executive editor at The Sun, Fergus Shanahan, was charged last week for alleged illegal payments to a public official.

Shanahan is due at Westminster Magistrates Court on the same day as the four people charged Wednesday.

'Collective amnesia'

Separately, the UK police watchdog released the findings Wednesday of its inquiry into Surrey Police's handling of the hacking of Milly Dowler's voice mail.

Surrey Police officers appear to be "afflicted by a form of collective amnesia" in relation to the force's failure to investigate an allegation in 2002 that the News of the World had hacked the teenager's phone, said the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

No action was taken to investigate the claim despite it being known about at all levels, the IPCC said.

"We will never know what would have happened had Surrey Police carried out an investigation into the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone in 2002," said Deborah Glass, IPCC deputy chairwoman, in a statement.

"Phone hacking was a crime and this should have been acted upon, if not in 2002, then later, once the News of the World's widespread use of phone hacking became a matter of public knowledge and concern."

Surrey Police has since apologized to the Dowler family.

READ MORE: Sun executive editor faces charge over alleged corrupt payments

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1239 GMT (2039 HKT)
Sean Connery says "yes," whilst David Beckham says "no." See what the famous are saying about Scotland's referendum.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)
On September 18, Scots go to the polls to vote on the future of their country. Here's what you should know.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
This is "Flames of War," a slick and ominous new video from the ISIS media center.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 0038 GMT (0838 HKT)
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1508 GMT (2308 HKT)
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1703 GMT (0103 HKT)
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
The Ebola virus, very deadly and currently without a cure, is fast-spreading throughout the small West African country.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0142 GMT (0942 HKT)
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT