28 Jan 2012

Sun employees held in payments probe

Home Affairs Correspondent

Four current or former employees of The Sun and one serving police officer have been arrested in London and Essex as part of investigations into payments to police officers.

A serving police officer and four current and former employees from The Sun newspaper have been arrested over payments to police officers.

The 29-year-old male officer was arrested at a police station in central London where he works. The officer, who serves with the MPS Territorial Policing command, is being questioned at a south London police station.

Of the four other men, three – a 48-year-old from Essex, a 56 year-old from Essex, and a 48-year-old from north London – were arrested at their homes. Officers made the arrests between 6am and 8am this morning.

A fourth man, aged 42, was arrested at 11am when he attended an east London police station.

Channel 4 News understands the arrests include Mike Sullivan, crime editor at The Sun, Chris Pharo, its head of news, and former deputy editor Fergus Shanahan. Graham Dudman, now a columnist and media writer but formerly the newspaper’s managing editor, was also arrested.

All five men are being questioned on suspicion of corruption.

The suspects were arrested under Operation Elveden, which runs alongside the Operation Weeting phone hacking inquiry.

Officers are searching the offices of News International in Wapping, east London, and the home addresses of the suspects, a spokesman said.

News Corporation statement

News Corporation, which owns News International, said in a statement: “News Corporation made a commitment last sumer that unacceptable news gathering practices by individuals in the past would not be repeated.

“It commissioned the Management and Standards Committee (MSC) to undertake a review of all News International titles, regardless of cost, and to proactively co-operate with law enforcement and other authorities if potentially relevant information arose at those titles.

“As a result of that review, which is ongoing, the MSC provided information to the Elveden investigation which led to today’s arrests.

“No comment can be made on the nature of that information to avoid prejudicing the investigation and the rights of individuals.”

‘Not about sources’

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Today’s operation is the result of information provided to police by News Corporation’s management and standards committee.

“It relates to suspected payments to police officers and is not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately.”

The arrests bring the number of people questioned in the Elveden investigation to 13. Scotland Yard has arrested 12 suspects, and the IPCC has arrested one.