UK Sun reporter charged in police payments probe

LONDON Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:06pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - A journalist from Rupert Murdoch's Sun tabloid who allegedly paid police for tip-offs has become the latest person to be charged as part of Britain's wider phone-hacking scandal.

Virginia Wheeler, the paper's defence editor, is accused of paying a police officer at least 6,450 pounds, for information about suspects and victims of accidents and crimes including in the case of the death of a 15-year-old girl.

The tip-offs included information about high profile individuals and people associated with them, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said in a statement.

Wheeler and former Metropolitan Police Service constable Paul Flattley will be charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, the CPS said. They will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court at a date to be fixed.

Illegal payments to public officials for information has been discovered as part of the wider phone-hacking scandal which forced Murdoch to close what was once Britain's best-selling paper, the News of the World, in 2011.

Among others already facing charges in the scandal are Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media chief Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, who was once courted by a succession of British prime ministers in her role as Murdoch's lieutenant.

(This story has refiled as CPS has corrected age of girl in second paragraph to 15)

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Kate Holton)

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