UK reporter sentenced after paying cop for stories
A reporter with Britain’s top selling newspaper was spared jail at his sentencing Friday after a controversial police investigation into corrupt payments to officials for stories.
Anthony France of The Sun tabloid paid a police officer at London’s Heathrow airport over £22,000 (30,000 euros, $34,000) for 38 stories and pieces of information between 2008 and 2011.
He is only the second journalist to be convicted out of 29 charged under Operation Elveden, which has cost £20 million (28 million euros, $31 million) of public money.
Last month, prosecutors dropped charges against nine out of 12 journalists awaiting trial.
Sentencing France at London’s central criminal court, judge Timothy Pontius said that paying people for stories was acceptable practice at the Sun, which has daily circulation figures of around two million.
The police officer, Constable Timothy Edwards of the counter-terrorism unit SO15, passed on stories about pilots being breath-tested and a drunken model getting angry after “catching her boyfriend romping with a woman,” the court heard.
Pontius sentenced France to an 18-month suspended jail term for aiding and abetting a police officer to commit misconduct in a public office.
The 41-year-old from Watford, northwest of London, was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
France is expected to lose his job as a result of the conviction and could be forced to pay legal costs.