LONDON — U.K. officials are for the first time charging a journalist outside of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper empire as part of an ongoing investigation into bribery of public officials.
The charge against Thomas Savage — deputy news editor of the Daily Star on Sunday — is being brought as part of an investigation triggered by revelations of phone hacking at Murdoch's now-shuttered News of the World tabloid. The Crown Prosecution Service said Monday that Savage will be charged with conspiring with prison officer Scott Chapman to commit misconduct in a public office. Lucy Panton, former crime editor at the now-shuttered News of the World, will be charged with the same offense, prosecutors added.
Chapman allegedly sold information about a high-profile prisoner to a number of British tabloids — including the News of the World, The Sun, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Star — between March 2010 and June 2011 for thousands of pounds (dollars). His partner, Lynn Gaffney, allegedly acted as go-between.
Both Chapman and Gaffney are facing four counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
Separately, prosecutors said they will be levying one count of the same charge against The Sun newspaper's Chris Pharo, for allegedly authorizing payments to public officials employed at the Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital , two police forces, prison officials and officers in the British army between January 2006 and December 2010. He was news editor of the Murdoch-owned tabloid at the time.
Chapman, Gaffney, Panton, Savage and Pharo will appear at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on July 18.
The charges are being brought as part of Operation Elveden, an investigation into allegations that newspapers were paying police and other officials for information.
The inquiry is running alongside investigations into phone and computer hacking sparked by the discovery that reporters at Murdoch's News of the World tabloid regularly intercepted voicemails.
More than 30 people have been charged in the scandal, including journalists, police officers and former executives at Murdoch's newspapers.