Rupert Murdoch gives his “personal assurance” to staff at The Sun after five arrests at the paper, as MP Tom Watson tells Channel 4 News the media mogul may be called back to the UK to give evidence.
Mr Murdoch said he would continue to own and publish the newspaper after the arrest of five of the tabloid’s senior journalists.
The men were among eight people arrested today in connection with the probe into inappropriate payments to police and public officials, which also included a serving member of the Armed Forces, a Ministry of Defence employee and a serving officer at Surrey Police.
In an internal memo to staff at News International, the company that owns The Sun and The Times, chief executive Tom Mockridge said he had Rupert Murdoch’s “personal assurance” that he plans to continue to own and publish The Sun.
Tom Watson MP, who sits on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, told Channel 4 News that News International may be called back to give further evidence to the committee.
He told us: “What we know now is that the company collaborated with the police. They have given evidence to the police that has led to some of these arrests. What I think it’s important to do, if they’ve got evidence that shows that in fact there is a reasonable suspicion that police were paid by News International then Parliament needs to know about it because it shows that we have potentially been misled and we are in the middle of an inquiry and we need to know what the company now knows.
In the memo (published below) The Sun’s Mr Mockridge said: “I understand the pressure many of you are under and have the greatest admiration for everyone’s continued professionalism.
“The Sun has a proud history of delivering ground-breaking journalism. You should know that I have had a personal assurance today from Rupert Murdoch about his total commitment to continue to own and publish The Sun newspaper.”
He also told staff: “Today we are facing our greatest challenge” and added he was “very saddened” by the arrests of deputy editor Geoff Webster, picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker, and John Sturgis, who is a news editor.
Mr Mockridge said he had written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to seek clarification about the process of independent oversight of the police investigation.
Police raided the homes of the five men, aged between 45 and 68, in the early hours of Saturday morning. They are being questioned on suspicion of corruption, aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office, and conspiracty in relation to both these offences.
The Sun’s editor Dominic Mohan said in a statement earlier today: “I’m as shocked as anyone by today’s arrests but am determined to lead The Sun through these difficult times. I have a brilliant staff and we have a duty to serve our readers and will continue to do that. Our focus is putting out Monday’s newspaper.”
Memo to The Sun's employees
This is the full text of the memo from News International's Tom Mockridge to employees:
I am very saddened that a further five colleagues from The Sun have been arrested this morning by the Police. It has already been widely reported the individuals involved are Geoff Webster, John Edwards, John Kay, John Sturgis and Nick Parker.
This news is difficult for everyone on The Sun and particularly for those of you who work closely with those involved.
Some of the individuals arrested have been instrumental in breaking important stories about public bodies, for example the scandal of our under resourced troops in Iraq.
We must take care not to pre-judge the outcome of the police interviews. It is vitally important for all those involved that proper due process should take its course. The company has provided legal support to those interviewed today.
I remind you that News Corporation has empowered an independent body, the MSC, to cooperate fully with the Police. The MSC has reiterated to me that this is being carried out with regard to the protection of legitimate journalistic sources.
In light of these further developments, I have today written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to seek clarification from them about the process of independent oversight of the Police investigation.
I understand the pressure many of you are under and have the greatest admiration for everyone's continued professionalism.
The Sun has a proud history of delivering ground-breaking journalism. You should know that I have had a personal assurance today from Rupert Murdoch about his total commitment to continue to own and publish The Sun newspaper.
Today we are facing our greatest challenge. Dominic is committed to leading the paper through this difficult period and, while today's arrests are shocking, we need to support him and his team to serve the loyal readers of The Sun and produce a great paper for Monday.