Sun reporter charged in hacking probe

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iol news pic the sun newspaper murdoch REUTERS The masthead of the first edition of The Sun on Sunday. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

LONDON - British prosecutors have charged a reporter on Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper over alleged payments of more than 17 000 pounds ($26 000) to officials for details of confidential government spending plans.

The charges are part of a wide-ranging police investigation begun two years ago into claims journalists from Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World newspaper had hacked into mobile phone voicemail messages.

That inquiry has led to dozens of arrests of current and former staff at News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp., and has been widened to examine claims of illegal payments to public officials.

The scandal forced the closure of the News of the World and has called into question the judgment of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was friends with several of Murdoch's senior executives.

Sun reporter Clodagh Hartley allegedly paid for information between 2008 and 2011 about then-unannounced government decisions related to the 2010 Budget and to deficit reduction plans, the Crown Prosecution Service said on Tuesday.

Hartley, 38, is charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, along with Jonathan Hall, 51, a press officer at the HMRC tax-collection agency, and his partner Marta Bukarewicz, 44. They will appear in court on May 29.

London police said in a separate statement all three had been granted bail. - Reuters

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