Four journalists appear in court accused of hacking and illegal payments at The Sun and News of the World

Four journalists appeared in court this morning accused of involvement in phone-hacking and making illegal payments at The Sun and the News of the World

The Sun's crime reporter, Anthony France, 41, from Watford, Hertfordshire, appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

The first charge states that France, between 31 March 2008 and 1 July  2011, conspired with Timothy Edwards – a police officer previously charged in relation to Operation Elveden – and with others unknown to commit misconduct in public office.

The second says that France, between 19 July 2009 and 14 August 2009, conspired together with others to commit misconduct in public office.

A former News of the World reporter and a soldier appeared in a separate hearing at the same court over an alleged conspiracy to commit misconduct.

Ryan Sabey now works at the Sun and Paul Brunt was a soldier at the time of the alleged crime in 2006.

The charge the pair face alleges that between 1 April 2006 and 1 November1 2007 they conspired together and with others to commit misconduct in public office.

All three defendants were granted unconditional bail by District Judge John Zani and ordered to attend the Old Bailey for preliminary hearings on 8 September.

Former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis and former features editor at the tabloid Jules Stenson appeared in court today over allegations of phone-hacking.

They were in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court accused of conspiring to illegally listen to voicemails with Andy Coulson, Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup, Neville Thurlbeck, Dan Evans, Glenn Mulcaire and others unknown between January 2003 and January 2007.

They are facing charges as part of Operation Pinetree, a Scotland Yard investigation into claims that News of the World features staff obtained information in this way.

District Judge John Zani granted the pair unconditional bail.

They are due to appear at the Old Bailey for a preliminary hearing on 8 September.

Wallis said in a statement after the charge was announced last month: ''I am devastated that more than three years after my initial arrest, this has been brought against me. My family and I have already paid a huge price from the police's very public attention.

''Perhaps it is inevitable that after being such an outspoken critic of the collateral damage and pain caused by this endlessly vindictive and enormously costly investigation the ire has been turned on me for something that occurred at News International which I was not party to and have always said was wrong.

''Sadly, legal reporting restrictions prevent me commenting further on this sad day.''

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