LONDON – A senior reporter at Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun newspaper is being charged with conspiring to pay 23,000 pounds (roughly $35,000) in bribes in return for tips about the royal family, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The Sun’s Chief Royal Correspondent Duncan Larcombe is alleged to have conspired with employees of Sandhurst — Britain’s prestigious military academy — to secure royal gossip. Although the statement does not go into detail, Princes William and Harry both trained at Sandhurst several years ago and the younger royals have long made tempting targets for scandal-hungry tabloids.
Larcombe joins a growing list of Sun staff who have found themselves in the dock over the paper’s shaky ethics.
The paper’s executive editor, Fergus Shanahan, faces a bribery-related charge. The Sun’s deputy editor, Geoff Webster, The Sun’s defence editor, Virginia Wheeler, and The Sun’s former chief reporter, John Kay, also face charges. So too does The Sun’s former editor, Rebekah Brooks.
The Sun’s crime editor, Mike Sullivan, was arrested last year but recently learned he would not face charges.
The wave of legal action is linked to the phone hacking scandal which exploded at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire in 2011. The scandal shook Britain’s establishment with revelations of industrial-scale espionage, phone hacking, bribery, blackmail, and influence peddling. Scores of journalists, police officials, and executives have been arrested or lost their jobs.