SunTwo former police officers, an ex-prison officer and another public official have admitted selling information to the Sun.  These are the first accused to plead guilty in relation to the investigation into alleged illegal payments by journalists.

Alan Tierney, an ex-Surrey police constable, and former prison officer Richard Trunkfield, both pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office at the Old Bailey on Friday morning during plea and case management hearings.

Mr Tierney admitted selling details of the separate arrests of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood and of John Terry’s mother to the Sun.  He admitted one count of misconduct in a public office between 26 March and 3 April 2009, and a second between 2 and 7 December 2009.  He will be sentenced on 27 March 2013.

Mr Trunkfield, 31, from Moulton, Northamptonshire, pleaded guilty to selling information about a “high-profile prisoner” to the same newspaper.

Another police officer, has pleaded guilty to an offence of misconduct in a public office> The fourth person, a public official, pleaded guilty to an offence of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

A number of charging decisions were announced on 20 November 2012. The charging decision in relation to  Mr Trunkfield was announced on 19 February 2013.

These four pleas of guilty follow charges which resulted from Operation Elveden. This began on 20 June 2011 when News International disclosed material to the Metropolitan Police Service that indicated that police officers had allegedly been receiving cash/cheque payments from journalists from the News of the World for the provision of confidential information. the police investigation into into allegations of unlawful payment by News International staff to public officials.  The Operation was subsequently widened to include the Sun.  A full list of arrests can be found on the “Phonescandal”, Dial M for Murdoch website.

As the Brown Moses blog points out

Amongst News International arrests are royal editor(s), editor(s), sundry senior executives, managing editor(s), news editor, crime editor, executive editor, deputy editor, chief reporter, deputy news editor, defence editor, chief foreign correspondent etc.  These are not low-level roles or freelancers cutting corners.

Police arrests are also worth analysis: to date, no less than FOUR from MET Specialist Crimes & Special Operations alone, plus two senior officers from the City of London force.  The most recent (see here, Daily Mail) is a former Assistant Commissioner and thus the first (but perhaps not the last) ACPO rank arrest for suspected leaking of unauthorised information.