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Former News Corp editor to face charges for bribery

The one-time deputy editor of News Corps’ The Sun tabloid will be prosecuted on two criminal conspiracy counts in the U.K. for his role in approving bribes from reporters to public officials in return for confidential information.

A statement released Wednesday by the crown prosecution service said,

We have concluded, following a careful review of the evidence, that Geoff Webster, who at the time of the alleged offending was Deputy Editor of The Sun newspaper, should be charged with two offenses of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

The first offense relates to allegations that Mr Webster, between July 2010 and August 2011, authorized payments totalling £6,500 for information supplied by a public official to one of his journalists.

The second offense relates to an allegation that in November 2010, Mr Webster authorized a payment of £1,500 for information provided by an unknown public official.

Webster is among a dozen people charged in the case.

He’ll appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on March 26, the statement said.

In response to what began as a phone hacking scandal in the U.K. in 2011, New York-based News Corp closed the News of the World newspaper.

A story Sunday in the Wall Street Journal, also owned by News Corp, reported a DOJ investigation of allegations by an anonymous whistleblower of bribes paid in China by Journal employees to government officials.

The story said ‘several senior Justice Department lawyers are increasingly skeptical any criminal charges would be filed against individuals at the company, although the investigation continues.’

An internal investigation found ‘no evidence to support the claim, according to government and corporate officials familiar with the case,’ the WSJ said.

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