Former UK Sun deputy editor charged in hacking inquiry

LONDON, April 18 Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:54am EDT

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - The former deputy editor of Rupert Murdoch's British Sun tabloid has been charged with authorising illegal payments to a public official to get stories, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Fergus Shanahan is accused of authorising a reporter on the paper to make two payments totalling 7,000 pounds to an unnamed official in return for information between August 2006 and August 2007.

"Following a careful review of the evidence, we have concluded that Fergus Shanahan, who served as an editor at the Sun newspaper, should be charged with an offence of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office," said Alison Levitt, Legal Advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Shanahan will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 8.

He is the latest senior figure who worked for News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp. , to face charges over an the long-running police investigation into phone-hacking and other criminal activities.

The current deputy editor Geoff Webster has also been charged with making illegal payments to public officials.

Prime Minister David Cameron's former media chief Andy Coulson, who was editor of Murdoch's News of the World between 2003 and 2007, and Rebekah Brooks, the former boss of News International, have also been charged with criminal offences.

Last month, two former policemen and an ex-prison officer were jailed for selling stories to the Sun, while a former a senior British counter-terrorism police officer was jailed in February for offering to sell details about the phone-hacking inquiry to the News of the World in 2010.