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An ex-Sun journalist has been charged with a computer hacking offence and also faces a second charge relating to the alleged handling of a stolen mobile phone.

Ben Ashford, 34, had worked on Rupert Murdoch's tabloid newspaper, which is published by News International (since rebranded as News UK), for four years from 2006.

"The Crown Prosecution Service 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," its senior lawyer, Gregor McGill, said.

"May I remind all concerned that criminal proceedings against Ben Ashford will now be commenced and that he has a right to a fair trial. It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."

The charge sheet alleges that:

Between 11/10/09 and 16/10/09 Ben Ashford possessed criminal property, namely a mobile telephone belonging to Emma Murray, knowing or suspecting it to constitute a person's benefit from criminal conduct.

Contrary to section 329(1) Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Between 11/10/09 and 16/10/09 Ben Ashford caused a computer to perform a function with intent to secure unauthorised access to a program or data held in a computer, knowing that such access was unauthorised.

Contrary to section 1(1) Computer Misuse Act 1990.

He is to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 15 October. ®

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