The Sun’s chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker has been charged by the Crown Prosecution Service along with a prison officer from HMP Swaleside.
Parker, who was arrested 11 February 2012, has been charged on three counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
It is alleged that Parker paid a total of £2,650 for information which included details about the "movement of prisoners, prison procedures and methods used by prisoners to smuggle items into prison". It is also alleged that the same prison office sold information to Trinity Mirror's People newspaper for £900.
News International chief executive Mike Darcey said in a memo to staff that Nick Parker has been “working hard and producing terrific stories” whilst on police bail and that he will be given legal support by NI.
Senior lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service Gregor McGill said: "Following a careful review of the evidence, we have concluded that Nick Parker, a journalist at The Sun newspaper, should be charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
“We have also concluded that Lee Brockhouse, a prison officer at HMP Swaleside, should be charged with one count of misconduct in a public office and one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
“It is alleged that on two occasions The Sun newspaper paid money to a public official in exchange for the unauthorised disclosure of information to Nick Parker relating to well-known individuals.
“It is also alleged that between 23 April 2007 and 27 October 2009, The Sun newspaper paid £1750 to prison officer Lee Brockhouse for the unauthorised disclosure of information to Nick Parker.
“Additionally, it is alleged that Lee Brockhouse provided similar information to the People newspaper, for which he was paid £900.
“It is alleged that information provided by Lee Brockhouse included that relating to the movement of prisoners, prison procedures and methods used by prisoners to smuggle items into prison.
“The CPS has also determined, having carefully reviewed all the evidence in a file relating to these allegations and concerning one journalist, received from the Metropolitan Police on 22 May 2013, that no further action should be taken in relation to allegations of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office against this suspect.
“Due to ongoing proceedings it would be inappropriate to say any more at this stage. At the conclusion of any related proceedings we will consider what more can be made public in relation to this decision.
“All of these matters were considered carefully in accordance with the DPP's guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media. This guidance asks prosecutors to consider whether the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings.
"Accordingly, we have authorised the institution of proceedings against Nick Parker and Lee Brockhouse and both individuals will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on 11 July 2013.
"May I remind all concerned that proceedings for criminal offences involving these two individuals will now be commenced and that each 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."
Parker becomes the seventh Sun journalist to face criminal charges over their actions for the paper as a result of the Met Police Operation Elveden probe into payments for stories.
In November 2012, Sun chief reporter John Kay was charged with making payments totalling £100,000 to a Ministry of Defence employee.
On 22 January this year, Sun defence editor Virginia Wheeler was charged with making payments totalling £6,450 to a police officer for information. The case against her was dropped on 5 June on health grounds. Her barrister said she had planned to contest the charges.
Sun deputy editor Geoff Webster was charged on 20 March with authorising payments totalling £8,000 to public officials.
On 24 April Sun royal editor Duncan Larcombe was charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office after allegedly paying more than £23,000 to a soldier and his wife for stories relating to the Royal family.
On 14 May Sun Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley was charged with paying £17,475 to a HMRC press officer for details about Government plans, including the Budget.
The full charges aganst Nick Parker and Lee Brockhouse are as follows (source CPS):
- Nick Parker, between 26 March and 3 April 2009, conspired together with a public official, namely a police officer, to commit misconduct in a public office contrary to section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977
- Nick Parker, between 2 and 7 December 2009, conspired together with a public official, namely a police officer, to commit misconduct in a public officec ontrary to section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977
- Between 23 April 2007 and 27 October 2009, Nick Parker and Lee Brockhouse conspired together to commit misconduct in a public office contrary to section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977
- Between 1 February 2009 and 3 June 2011, Lee Brockhouse, whilst acting as a public officer, namely a prison officer at Her Majesty’s Prison, Swaleside, wilfully and without reasonable excuse or justification misconducted himself contrary to common law.