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Sun executive editor faces criminal charges

April 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM

LONDON, April 18 (UPI) -- The executive editor of Britain's largest-circulation newspaper, The Sun, will be charged with paying off a public official for news, prosecutors said Thursday.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Fergus Shanahan, who was arrested for questioning in January 2012 and released on bail, will appear before a magistrate May 8, The Guardian reported. Shanahan allegedly authorized illegal payments of 7,000 pounds (about $11,000) while he was deputy executive editor of the Murdoch-owned tabloid between 2007 and 2009.

Shanahan, the most senior Sun employee to be charged, was one of the first people to be questioned as the Metropolitan Police expanded its phone-hacking investigation, Operation Elveden, to other areas. The scandal exploded in 2011 when The Guardian reported that The News of the World, which has since closed, in 2002 hacked the cell phone of Milly Dowler, a missing schoolgirl who was later found dead.

"May I remind all concerned that proceedings for a criminal offence involving Mr. Shanahan will now be commenced and that he has a right to a fair trial," said Allison Levitt, a lawyer and legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions. "It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."

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