Sun four - Kay, Larcombe, Shanahan and Webster - cleared by Old Bailey jury - Press Gazette

Sun four - Kay, Larcombe, Shanahan and Webster - cleared by Old Bailey jury

Four senior Sun journalists have been cleared of paying public officials for scoops, including titbits on the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Chief reporter John Kay, 71, and royal editor Duncan Larcombe, 39, were found not guilty of wrongdoing over their contact with two military sources following a trial at the Old Bailey.

The Sun's executive editor Fergus Shanahan, 60, and deputy editor Geoff Webster, 55, were also cleared over allegations that they signed off payments.

Kay, Shanahan and Webster were charged with conspiring with Ministry of Defence official Bettina Jordan-Barber to commit misconduct in a public office between 2004 and 2012.

During that time, Kay's "number one military contact" pocketed £100,000 from The Sun for a stream of stories she sold to the tabloid newspaper.

Webster also faced a second count of plotting misconduct with a serving officer in the armed forces in November 2010.

Larcombe was charged with aiding and abetting former colour sergeant John Hardy, 44, to commit misconduct in a public office.

While he worked as a Sandhurst Royal Military Academy instructor between February 2006 and October 2008, Hardy was paid more than £23,700 for providing Larcombe with information on William and Harry and others on 34 occasions, the court was told.

The retired officer was found not guilty of misconduct in a public office while his wife Claire, 41, who was accused of collecting tip-off fees for her husband, was cleared of aiding and abetting him.

All the defendants denied the charges against them and the jury deliberated for 48 hours 39 minutes before clearing them.

Family of the defendants held hands and wept as the not guilty verdicts were delivered.

The journalists' acquittals will come as yet another blow to the multimillion-pound Operation Elveden investigation into newspapers' dealings with public officials.

So far, just one News of the World reporter, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been been found guilty of paying a corrupt official following a trial.

Former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks was found not guilty of signing off payments to public officials last year.



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