Former Sun reporter Ben Ashford charged with handling stolen mobile and accessing computer data

Former Sun journalist Ben Ashford was today charged with handling a stolen mobile phone and illegally accessing information held on a computer.

He is the first person to be charged in connection with the Operation Tuleta investigation into allegations of computer-hacking involving journalists.

Senior lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service Gregor McGill said: “The CPS has today authorised the Metropolitan Police to charge Ben Ashford with one offence of possession of criminal property and one offence of unauthorised access to computer material.”

Ashford is due to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 15 October, 2013.

McGill added: “May I remind all concerned that criminal proceedings against Ben Ashford will now be commenced and that he has a right to a fair trial. It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.”

Ashford, 34, worked as a reporter for The Sun from 2006 to 2010 and since then has been based in New York working for News Corp's newswire service NewsCore.

He was first arrested on 7 September, 2012.

His alleged crime dates back to 2009 when a mobile phone belonging to a woman called Emma Murray was found and handed in to The Sun. 

The full charges are as follows:

Between 11/10/09 and 16/10/09 Ben Ashford possessed criminal property, namely a mobile telephone belonging to Emma Murray, knowing or suspecting it to constitute a person’s benefit from criminal conduct.

Contrary to section 329(1) Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Between 11/10/09 and 16/10/09 Ben Ashford caused a computer to perform a function with intent to secure unauthorised access to a program or data held in a computer, knowing that such access was unauthorised.

Contrary to section 1(1) Computer Misuse Act 1990.

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