Westcountry journalist charged in computer hack probe
A Westcountry-based journalist has become the first person charged under a national inquiry into allegations of computer hacking and other privacy breaches.
Ben Ashford is to be charged with possession of criminal property and unauthorised access to computer material, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said. It is the first charge to be brought under Operation Tuleta, the Scotland Yard investigation that is being run alongside inquiries into alleged phone hacking and corrupt payments to public officials.
Gregor McGill, a senior lawyer at the CPS, said: "The CPS has today authorised the Metropolitan Police to charge Ben Ashford with one offence of possession of criminal property and one offence of unauthorised access to computer material."
Ashford, who now works for a news agency in Plymouth, will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on October 15.
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He has been accused of possessing criminal property between October 11 2009 and October 16 2009 – namely a mobile telephone belonging to Emma Murray – knowing or suspecting it to constitute a person's benefit from criminal conduct, the CPS said.
The former Sun newspaper journalist is also to be charged with causing a computer to perform a function with intent to secure unauthorised access to a programme or data held in a computer, knowing that such access was unauthorised, between the same dates, the CPS added.