London – Two former confidants of Britain’s prime minister have been charged with conspiring to pay public officials in exchange for stories and information – the latest development in the country’s scandal over media malfeasance.
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Services said Tuesday that former tabloid editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks were being charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
Prosecutors said that Brooks, a neighbor, close friend, and political ally of Prime Minister David Cameron, conspired with journalist John Kay to funnel as much as $160,000 to Ministry of Defense employee Bettina Jordan Barber in return for a stream of stories that were published in Murdoch’s the Sun newspaper.
In a statement, the prosecutors alleged that Coulson, who until last year served as Cameron’s top press aide, conspired with journalist Clive Goodman to pay officials for access to a royal phone directory.
Court clears girl of desecrating Koran
Islamabad – A Pakistani court on Tuesday dismissed charges against a Christian girl accused of desecrating the Koran, ending a case that had cast a spotlight on the country’s controversial blasphemy law and renewed questions about the treatment of minorities.
The Islamabad High Court concluded there was no evidence to support allegations that Rimsha Masih, 14, had ripped pages from the Koran on Aug. 16 and burned them, said one of her lawyers, Akmal Waheed Bhatti.
Rimsha spent three weeks in jail but was later freed on bail after police came across evidence they say shows an imam at a mosque in her neighborhood had ripped pages from a copy of the Koran and planted them in a bag of ashes and trash that the girl was taking to a garbage bin.
Anglicans still at odds over female bishops
London – The Church of England’s governing body blocked a move Tuesday to permit women to serve as bishops in a vote so close it failed to settle the question of female leadership and likely condemned the institution to years more debate on the issue.
The General Synod’s daylong debate ended with the rejection of a compromise that was intended to unify the faithful despite differing views on whether women should be allowed in the hierarchy. But backers failed to gain the necessary majority by six votes.
“There is no victory in the coming days,” said Rev. Angus MacLeay. “It is a train crash.”