News UK chief executive Mike Darcey has pledged his support to “highly respected” Sun crime reporter Anthony France following the news that he is to face trial.
The Crown Prosecution Service revealed yesterday that France was to be charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
The news came 19 months after France was arrested by officers from the Operation Elveden investigation into payments by journalists. They were acting on information provided by News Corp’s own Management and Standards Committee.
The offences are alleged to have taken place between 2008 and 2011.
France was told that he was to be charged a day after his 41st birthday.
Darcey said in an email to staff: "I am sorry to have to share the news that Anthony France, a crime reporter for The Sun, will be charged in connection with Operation Elveden.
"Anthony is a hugely popular and highly respected member of The Sun team and has been an integral part of the newsroom since 2004.
"He joined us after stints on the Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard and Sunday Mirror and almost immediately scored one of the biggest scoops of the year. At the height of concerns over security in The Houses of Parliament, Anthony revealed how lax security still was with the classic front page 'Sun 'Bomber' In Commons'. The accompanying picture was Anthony, as a waiter, serving then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
"Since then he has concentrated on covering crime issues and security, often asking difficult questions of Britain's police chiefs. He broke a string of big stories including the Sally Anne Bowman murder and the John Worboys serial rapist case. Despite being at the centre of a police inquiry, Anthony covered the Oscar Pistorius murder trial and Nelson Mandela's state funeral in South Africa.
"It is always difficult to hear such challenging news and I am grateful for the continued professionalism demonstrated by everyone on the paper, producing outstanding journalism everyday while we navigate these challenges.
"We will continue to support Anthony in every way we can and our thoughts are with him during this incredibly tough time."