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Cops imprisoned in UK for selling stories to media

world Updated: Mar 27, 2013 20:19 IST

A former policeman and a prison officer have been jailed in the UK after pleading guilty to selling information to Britain's Sun newspaper.

Alan Tierney, an ex-constable with Surrey police, was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 months in prison after admitting to selling details of the separate arrests of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and the mother of former England football captain John Terry to the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper.

Richard Trunkfield, a former operational support officer at high security Woodhill prison near Milton Keynes, received a 16-month prison sentence for passing on details about an accused in the murder case of a 10-year-old boy.

Both officials had pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office earlier this month and are among the first jail sentences arising from the Metropolitan police's Operation Elveden investigation into alleged illegal news-gathering.

"This country has long prided itself in the integrity of its public officials and these cynical acts of betrayal of these high standards have a profoundly corrosive effect," justice Fulford said in his ruling.

Prosecutors had revealed that the ex-constable had been paid a total of 1,750 pounds for information leaks, while the former prison officer had received 3,350 pounds for a number of stories.

Operation Elveden, running in conjunction with the Metropolitan police's investigation into the phone-hacking scandal, Operation Weeting, has led to the arrest of 107 people in two years, most of whom are journalists.

Tierney is the second police officer to be convicted under Elveden, following the case of former counter-terrorism detective April Casburn. She was jailed for 15 months for offering to sell information to the now defunct News of the World newspaper after the inquiry into hacking by the tabloid reopened in 2010.

Murdoch had closed down the Sunday tabloid following allegations of phone hacking emerged at the title. The latest court verdict coincides with news that News International plans to make The Sun a paid newspaper online.

The Sun follows the Telegraph, which announced on Tuesday that it would begin charging readers for online access.

The Times, also part of News International, introduced a subscription service for its online version three years ago.

Other newspapers owned by News Corp that have a paywall in place include the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Financial Times.