Sun newspaper staff acquitted on charges they paid officials 'backhanders'

Information was sold to the newspapers by public officials, including police and prison staff, the court heard

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The Independent Online

Four former and current Sun newspaper staff have been acquitted of charges of corrupting public officials.

Picture editor John Edwards, ex-deputy news editor Ben O’Driscoll, former Sun managing editor Graham Dudman and former reporter John Troup were cleared after seven days’ deliberations.

The jury at Kingston Crown Court will continue to consider verdicts for Sun head of news Chris Pharo and district reporter Jamie Pyatt. They will also consider outstanding charges against Mr Dudman and Mr O’Driscoll next week.

The charges relate to alleged backhanders to public officials on “a grand scale”, prosecutors said. Stories  allegedly involved details about the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, pop star Mick Hucknall and murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Information was sold to the newspapers by public officials, including police and prison staff, the court heard.

But the defendants’ lawyers said they had been “fed to the wolves” by News International in light of the phone-hacking scandal.

There were sighs from the defendants as the foreman read the verdicts.

Mr Edwards walked free, having been cleared of two counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. Mr Troup was cleared of the same charge. Mr Dudman and Mr O’Driscoll were each found not guilty of one similar charge.

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