* Soldier and wife took 34 payments for stories -prosecutors
* Journalist at Sun newspaper to appear in court on May 8
* Soldier worked at military academy where royals trained
LONDON, April 24 The royal editor of Rupert
Murdoch's biggest British newspaper is to be charged with
conspiring to make illegal payments to a soldier based at a
military academy when Princes William and Harry were training,
prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The charge is another blow to Murdoch's British news empire
which was rocked by a phone hacking scandal that led to the
closure of the biggest Sunday paper and a painful overhaul of
Duncan Larcombe, a senior reporter on The Sun daily, is
accused of paying a sergeant and his wife for stories about the
royal family and the prestigious Sandhurst military academy
where the princes completed their officer training in 2006.
The Crown Prosecution Service said Larcombe, former sergeant
John Hardy and his wife Claire Hardy, would be charged with
conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
Prosecutors allege that the couple received 34 payments
totalling more than 23,000 pounds ($35,200) for stories related
"mainly to the royal family or matters at Sandhurst" between
February 2006 and October 2008.
Larcombe was arrested in April last year as part of an
investigation into corrupt payments by journalists to public
officials. Known as Operation Elveden, it is an offshoot of the
long running phone-hacking inquiry that has shaken the British
Prosecutors said a fourth person, Tracy Bell, a pharmacy
assistant at Sandhurst, will be charged with misconduct in
public office. She is accused of receiving 1,250 pounds for five
stories published in The Sun in 2005 and 2006.
The Sun's publisher, News International, is owned by
Murdoch's News Corp.
All four defendants will appear in court in London on May 8.