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Tabloid had top civil servant at MoD on its payroll for 8 years, court told

By Martin Hickman

A senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence was on the payroll of The Sun for almost a decade, prosecutors have claimed as they charged the former editor of Britain's best-selling newspaper, Rebekah Brooks, and its chief reporter with plotting to bribe public officials.

Bettina Jordan-Barber, a strategy officer at the Ministry of Defence in London with responsibility for Afghanistan, allegedly passed information for stories to Rupert Murdoch's tabloid in return for £100,000.

The Crown Prosecution Service revealed yesterday that charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office were being laid against Ms Brooks, The Sun's long-standing chief reporter John Kay and Ms Barber, following a police inquiry into newspaper payments to public officials.

They are said to have committed the offence during an eight-year period between January 1, 2004, and January 31, 2012.

The News of the World's former editor, Andy Coulson, and its royal editor, Clive Goodman, were charged separately with two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office over an alleged plot to obtain contact details for the Royal Family.

Scotland Yard has been carrying out three inquiries into illegal newsgathering at News International's headquarters in London, prompted by alleged phone

hacking at the News of the World, which Mr Murdoch shut last July.

Mrs Brooks, who edited The Sun between 2003 and 2009, and five others — including her husband Charlie Brooks — have been accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to hack phones.

Mr Coulson, who served as Mr Cameron's director of communications for five years, until his resignation last January, is accused of perjury in Scotland and conspiracy to hack phones in England and Wales.

Five other former NOTW journalists — the managing editor Stuart Kuttner, chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and news editors Ian Edmonson, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup — have been charged with conspiracy to hack phones, along with a private detective Glenn Mulcaire.

All the accused deny the charges.

Factfile

Three police operations — Weeting into phone hacking, Tuleta into computer hacking and other breaches of privacy and Elveden into corruption of public officials — have led to 97 arrests of journalists, police officers, civil servants, prison and tax officials and members of the Armed Forces.

Twenty people have been charged. So far, 52 people have been arrested in Operation Elveden. A senior counter-terrorism detective has been charged and faces trial in January.

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