Sun’s chief royal reporter charged with conspiracy

THE Sun’s chief royal correspondent has been charged with allegedly paying public officials for stories about the Royal Family and Sandhurst military academy.
Picture: TSPLPicture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

Duncan Larcombe, 37, is alleged to have paid more than £23,000 to John Hardy, 43, who served as a Colour Sergeant at the Royal Military Training Academy at Sandhurst, and his 39-year-old wife Claire Hardy, for stories relating to the Royal Family or matters at Sandhurst.

All three were yesterday charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office between 9 February, 2006 and 16 October, 2008.

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A fourth person, Tracey Bell, 34, who worked at the Ministry of Defence as a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst Medical Centre, was charged with misconduct in a public office.

The charges followed investigations under Operation Elveden, Scotland Yard’s probe into alleged corrupt payments to public officials.

Tracey Bell allegedly received £1,250 between October 17, 2005 and July 7, 2006 relating to five articles published in the Sun regarding matters at Sandhurst, said Alison Levitt QC, principal legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions (DPP).

“These decisions [to press charges] were considered carefully in accordance with the DPP’s guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media,” she said.

“These guidelines require prosecutors to consider whether the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings.”