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British tabloid reporter cleared of bribing government press officer for tips

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LONDON — A journalist with Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid The Sun has been cleared of bribing a press officer for stories about government spending plans.

A jury at London's Central Criminal Court found Clodagh Hartley not guilty Wednesday of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

Prosecutors said Hartley paid tax-department press officer Jonathan Hall about 17,000 pounds ($27,000) over three years for information about unannounced spending plans and policy decisions.

Hartley was arrested in 2012 as part of a sprawling bribery probe linked to Britain's phone-hacking scandal.

Hartley said the stories were in the public interest and she had not believed she was breaking the law by paying a source.

Hall has admitted misconduct and will be sentenced later. His girlfriend, charged with channeling payments through her bank account, was cleared.

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