UPDATE 1-Ex-Murdoch UK CEO Brooks acquitted on Prince William picture charge

Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:18am EST

LONDON Feb 20 (Reuters) - Rebekah Brooks, the former boss of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers, who is on trial for phone-hacking and other charges, was acquitted on Thursday of one charge of authorising an illegal payment for a picture of Prince William in a bikini.

Brooks is still accused of four other offences relating to conspiracy to hack voicemail messages on mobile phones, authorising illegal payments to public officials and then plotting to hinder a subsequent police investigation.

Brooks, who was also a former editor of Murdoch's Sun and News of the World tabloids, denies all the charges.

Before she began her defence against these, the jury were instructed by the judge overseeing her trial at London's Old Bailey court to return a verdict of not guilty on one of two charges against her of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

This related to an allegation that Brooks, who ran News Corp's British newspaper arm until July 2011, had approved an illegal 4,000-pound ($6,700) payment for a picture of Prince William dressed as a "James Bond girl" and wearing a bikini while at a military academy party in 2006.

"I have decided there is no case for Mrs Brooks to answer on count four, that is the charge relating to the picture of Prince William in a bikini that was acquired by the Sun newspaper," the judge, Justice John Saunders told the jury.

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