The Sun's royal editor charged in payments investigation

Duncan Larcombe Credit: Reuters

The Sun's royal editor has been charged with allegedly paying public officials for stories about the Royal Family and Sandhurst academy.

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

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

Tracey Bell, 34, who was employed by the Ministry of Defence as a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst Medical Centre, has been charged with misconduct in a public office.

The charges have come as a result of investigations under Operation Elveden, the investigation into alleged corrupt payments to public officials.

Alison Levitt QC, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said:

"These decisions were considered carefully in accordance with the DPP's guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media.

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

All are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 8 May.