UK police arrest four more Murdoch staffers

Current and former employees of Sun tabloid arrested in investigation into whether police were paid for information.

    Rupert Murdoch and his son James have faced criticism for their papers' practice of phone hacking  [EPA]

    Police have arrested four current and former staff of Rupert Murdoch's best-selling Sun tabloid as well as a policeman as part of a probe into whether journalists paid police for information. 

    Police on Saturday also searched the London offices of Sun publisher News International, News Corp's British arm, in a separate corruption probe linked to a continuing investigation into phone hacking at the now closed News of the World weekly tabloid. 

    News Corp's Management and Standards Committee, set up in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, said Saturday's operation was the result of information it had passed to police. 

    "News Corporation made a commitment last summer that unacceptable news gathering practices by individuals in the past would not be repeated," the committee said in a statement confirming the arrests of four "current and former employees" of the Sun

    Voicemails hacked

    Including the new arrests, 13 people have been detained in a probe into allegations journalists paid police in return for
    information, known as Operation Elveden. The operation is one of three criminal investigations into the news-gathering practices of the News of the World.

    The 168-year-old tabloid came crashing down in July after it was revealed that reporters had hacked the voicemails of a murdered schoolgirl, relatives of dead British soldiers and victims of the July 2005 London bombings.

    Rupert Murdoch and his son James, the two men at the top of News Corp, faced widespread criticism and were called to testify before a parliamentary inquiry.

    On Saturday, Britain's biggest drug maker, GlaxoSmithKline, announced that James Murdoch had decided not to run for re-election to the company's board at the annual shareholder meeting in May. 

    Managers arrested

    The employees, all arrested at their homes, included a 48-year-old man from north London and two men from Essex, east of the capital, aged 48 and 56, police said. 

    The fourth man, aged 42, was arrested after reporting to an east London police station. 

    The fifth arrest was a 29-year-old police officer serving with the Met Police's Territorial Policing Command, who was arrested at the central London police station where he worked. 

    All five were being questioned on suspicion of corruption. 

    "Everyone is a bit shocked, there is disbelief really. But there is a big difference between phone hacking and payments to the police," a Sun reporter who asked not to be named told Reuters.

    The arrests included the Sun's crime editor Mike Sullivan, its head of news Chris Pharo, and former deputy editor Fergus Shanahan, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

    Searches continue

    Also arrested was the paper's former managing editor, Graham Dudman, now a columnist and media writer, the source said.

    Searches at News International's offices in Wapping, east London, and at the arrested men's homes were expected to continue until the afternoon, police said.

    Last week, News International settled a string of legal claims after it admitted that people working for the tabloid had
    hacked the private voicemail of celebrities and others to generate stories.

    The phone hacking scandal drew attention to the level of political influence held by editors and executives at News
    International, and other newspapers in Britain.

    It embarrassed British politicians for their close ties with newspaper executives and also the police, who repeatedly failed to investigate allegations of illegal phone hacking.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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