Soldier found not guilty after misconduct trial over selling stories to The Sun and News of the World

A former soldier in Prince Harry's regiment has been found not guilty of committing misconduct in a public office by selling stories to The Sun and News of the World.

Paul Brunt, 33, from Kentish Town, North London, was arrested under Operation Elveden and accused of receiving £16,000 in payments from News International over 18 months.

He denied two counts of misconduct in a public office and the Old Bailey jury took less than three hours to clear him of wrongdoing.

The jury in the retrial was not told that in the spring the Court of Appeal had quashed Brunt's earlier conviction over the case. Former News of the World reporter Ryan Sabey's conviction was also quashed, although he did not face a retrial.

Outside court, Brunt said: "I'm just so glad it's over obviously. I'm really, really grateful. I'm happy that I can spent time with my two children over Christmas which was my main worry."

Brunt said: "I just want to thank everyone for their support and bearing with me, especially my fiancee who has gone through as much as me over the last two years.

"It obviously has an effect on your life because you are in constant fear of being sent to prison. I'm just really grateful the public have seen through all that."

He went on: "I understand that the laws are there. I accept speaking to the press is wrong but everyone from the Armed Forces do need to be aware there are legal consequences they could face."

The trial had heard how Brunt was first paid £5,000 for material that led to a News of the World story about a fancy dress Christmas parade headlined "Swastika Shame of Prince Harry's Regiment".

In all, he received £9,450 from the News of the World and £7,150 from The Sun between April 2006 and November 2007, jurors were told.

When he was arrested, he told police it was "easy money" for "just silliness" and insisted he never revealed "any secret stuff", his Old Bailey trial heard.

But prosecutor Julian Christopher QC told jurors: "The point is he was being paid over many months as a secret inside source of information which he knew he should not be providing to the press."

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