Sun executive editor Fergus Shanahan charged over payments to public official


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The Independent Online

The Sun’s executive editor Fergus Shanahan has been charged with authorising one of his paper’s journalists to make two payments totalling £7,000 to a public official.

The alleged payments are said to have occurred between August 2006 and August 2007 when Mr Shanahan was deputy editor of the News International tabloid.

The prosecution official  announcing the charges said the decision followed an investigation by Operation Elveden, the specialist Metropolitan Police unit which is examining potentially illegal payments from journalists to public official.

Alison Levitt from Crown Prosecution Service said Mr Shanahan will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court next month on a charge of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

The official alleged to be linked to the payments has not been named for legal reasons.

From 2003 to 2009 Mr Shanahan was number two on the UK’s top selling daily newspaper. He is the most senior current Sun journalist to face charges under the Operation Elveden inquiry.

Ms Levitt’s statement said  “Our decision to prosecute was considered carefully in accordance with the DPP's guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media.”

Mr Shanahan was one of the first Sun journalists arrested when Scotland Yard detectives widened their investigation into police corruption in January last year.

He has been on police bail since his arrest on 28 January 2012, when he was held alongside newsdesk executive, Chris Pharo, former managing editor Graham Dudman, and Mike Sullivan, The Sun's crime editor.

Mr Sullivan was told last month he would not be charged.

Mr Shanahan, a 24-year veteran at The Sun, was promoted to his executive position  in November 2007 after four years as the deputy to former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks.

The Metropolitan Police has arrested over 100 people in connection with the Elveden investigation and the parallel inquiry which is looking at illegal phone message interception, Operation Weeting.

Nineteen people have so far been charged with offences.

The chief executive of News International, Mike Darcey, confirmed to  staff at The Sun today their executive editor had been charged. He said News International would be offering Mr Shanahan “every support as he goes through the legal process”.