LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - A former policemen and an ex-prison officer were jailed on Wednesday for selling stories to Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid the Sun, Britain’s top-selling newspaper.
The two men were convicted as 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 long-running 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.
Alan Tierney, a police constable based in Surrey to the south of London, and Richard Trunkfield, who worked at a high-security prison in central England, had both pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office last month.
Tierney, 40, was paid 1,250 pounds ($1,900) by the Sun for providing details of the arrest of former England soccer captain John Terry’s mother on suspicion of shoplifting and the arrest of Rolling Stones star Ronnie Wood, who was held on suspicion of beating up his lover.
The former policeman was jailed for 10 months.
“This case demonstrates that behaviour of this kind will not be tolerated in the police service,” said London’s Metropolitan Police, which is leading the inquiries.
Trunkfield, 31, provided information about Jon Venables, who was aged 10 when he and another child killed a toddler in 1993 in one of the most infamous murders in Britain in recent times.
The prison officer, who had contact with a Sun journalist between 10 and 15 times, receiving 3,500 pounds in the process, was handed a 16-month sentence.
“It is most assuredly not for individual prison officers to take it upon themselves to contact the press to reveal information about a defendant in circumstances such as those before the court today, still less to enrich themselves in the process,” said the judge, Justice Adrian Fulford.
Last month, April Casburn, 53, a senior British counter-terrorism police officer, became the first person to be convicted and jailed by detectives looking into the phone-hacking claims and other related offences.
Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News International and a close confidante of Murdoch, and Cameron’s former media chief Andy Coulson, are among those who have also been charged with crimes relating to the inquiries.
They are due to go on trial later this year.