4 Sun journos, 1 cop bailed in police bung probe
Police officers investigating allegations of illegal payments to cops as part of a larger probe of News International arrested four journalists on Saturday. All four were either current or former hacks at Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun. Police also arrested a Metropolitan police service officer at the weekend.
The five men were later bailed by officers working on Operation Elveden.
Significantly, the arrests followed information passed to Scotland Yard directly from News Corp, the Murdoch-run media empire that owns NI.
The five men are also the first suspects to be taken in for questioning outside of anyone working for the company’s now-defunct News of the World Sunday tabloid, which was shuttered as the phone-hacking scandal unraveled last summer.
The Met said in a statement that a 49-year-old man, a 57-year-old man, a 48-year-old man and a 42-year-old man had been arrested at their homes and later bailed to return pending further inquiries in April and May this year.
“All four were arrested on suspicion of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906; aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office (contrary to common law) and conspiracy in relation to both these offences,” it added.
A fifth man was also cuffed by officers from Operation Elveden.
It said: “A 29-year-old serving MPS officer was arrested at his place of work at a central London police station on suspicion of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, misconduct in a public office and conspiracy in relation to both these offences.”
The unnamed cop was later bailed to return pending further inquiries in April.
News Corp said that an internal committee tasked with reviewing all NI titles had provided information to Op Elveden cops, which led to the arrests of the four Sun hacks.
The [committee] gave the MPS every assistance during the searches of News International premises while ensuring that all appropriate steps were taken to protect legal and journalistic privilege,” said News Corp in a statement.
“It also provided the option of immediate legal representation to those arrested.
“News Corporation will continue to give its total support to the continued work of the management and standards committee to ensure that legitimate journalism is vigorously pursued in both the public interest and in full compliance with the law.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is overseeing Op Elveden, said it would continue to consider any referrals from officers working on that investigation on a “case-by-case basis”. It met with officers probing the corruption allegations, prior to the arrest of the serving Met cop on Saturday.
“It will be clear from today’s events that this investigation is following the evidence,” said IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass.
“I am satisfied with the strenuous efforts being made by this investigation to identify police officers who may have taken corrupt payments and I believe the results will speak for themselves.
“By supervising this important development in Operation Elveden, the IPCC is providing crucial independent oversight in what is a complex criminal enquiry – not just in to allegations of corruption against police officers, but allegations involving members of the media.” ®