Fergus Shanahan was editor of the Sun in 2006 (Reuters)
Fergus Shanahan was editor of the Sun in 2006 (Reuters)

Fergus Shanahan, the executive editor of the Sun newspaper, is to be charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

Shanahan is accused of authorising two payments to public officials totalling £7,000 between 7 August 2006 and 14 August 2007. He was duputy editor of the Sun newspaper during this time.

He was first arrested by officers under Operation Elveden 15 months ago and has been on bail ever since. He is due to appear before Westminster magistrates court on 8 May.

Shanahan is one of 22 current and serving Sun journalists arrested in the past 18 months.

Last month, The Sun's deputy editor, Geoff Webster, was charged over alleged illegal payments to public officials. The former head of pictures at the now defunct News of the World was charged with two counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office during 2010 and 2011.

Alison Levitt QC, Principal Legal Advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said: "Following a careful review of the evidence, we have concluded that Fergus Shanahan, who served as an editor at the Sun newspaper, should be charged with an offence of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

"It is alleged that in August 2006 and August 2007 Mr Shanahan, in his role as an editor, authorised one of his journalists to make two payments totalling £7,000 to a public official for the disclosure of information.

"Our decision to prosecute was 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."

Metropolitan Police detective April Casburn was the first to be jailed under Operation Elveden, after offering to sell information to the News of the World. She received a 15-month sentence.

Former Police officer Alan Tierney was jailed for 10 months for pleading guilty to two counts of misconduct after selling information to the Sun about John Terry's mother and Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood.

Prison officer Richard Trunkfield was sentenced to 16 months for selling information about one of James Bulger's killers, Jon Venables, to the News International paper for £3,350.