Operation Elveden: Sun journalist found guilty of paying a police officer for stories

Anthony France cultivated a 'corrupt relationship' with PC Timothy Edwards

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A Sun journalist has been found guilty of paying  a police officer for stories, securing a rare success for the Operation Elveden investigation.

Crime reporter Anthony France, 41, cultivated a “corrupt relationship” with PC Timothy Edwards over four years, his trial at the Old Bailey heard.

While working at Heathrow Airport in SO15 counter-terrorism command, PC Edwards, 49, sold 38 stories and titbits of information to the journalist in exchange for more than £22,000.

France’s mother burst into tears as he left the dock after being found guilty of aiding and abetting PC Edwards to commit misconduct in a public office between March 2008 and July 2011.

Before adjourning for sentencing, Judge Timothy Pontius said: “I emphasise very firmly that the fact I’m releasing you on bail should not serve as any sort of indication of what the sentence will be.”

The court heard that PC Edwards passed on details ranging from airline pilots being breathalysed to a drunken model flying into a rage after “catching her boyfriend romping with a woman next to him”.

But France denied any wrongdoing, telling jurors that he had never been advised by anyone at The Sun that speaking to a police officer – or any public official – might be against the  law.

France also told jurors of his difficulties working for a “homophobic bully” in the office who stripped him of his crime reporter title in 2010.The jury in France’s trial was not told that Edwards pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office and was jailed for two years in 2014.

France was the first journalist to stand trial for paying a public official since the Director of Public Prosecutions was forced to carry out a root-and-branch review of the controversial Operation Elveden cases.

He was one of three journalists left to stand trial after DPP Alison Saunders announced in April that the Crown Prosecution Service was ditching nine out of 12 outstanding cases.

The move came after the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of ex-News of the World crime reporter Lucy Panton and gave fellow NotW reporter Ryan Sabey leave to appeal – the only others to be found guilty following a trial.

The jury deliberated for about four hours before convicting France, who is from Watford.

He will be sentenced on 29 May at 10am.