British Phone Hacking Scandal Hits ‘The Sun’

Posted February 11th, 2012 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Britain's top selling newspaper is reeling following the arrest of five senior employees – part of a larger police investigation into illegal news gathering practices.

The Sun newspaper confirmed the arrests of Deputy Editor Geoff Webster, Picture Editor John Edwards, Chief Reporter John Kay, Chief Foreign Correspondent Nick Parker and reporter John Sturgis via email Saturday. The paper's owner, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, also said police had searched their homes and their offices in London.

Police said separately that a defense ministry employee and a police officer with the Surrey Police department had also been arrested.

The arrests are part of an inquiry into allegations the newspaper got information by bribing police and other officials. Police said the information used to make the arrests came from a committee set up by News Corporation to investigate alleged malpractice.

Murdoch's News Corporation shuttered its News of the World tabloid last year after allegations reporters there got information by hacking into mobile phones and email accounts.

The Sun's editor said Saturday the staff would continue to work on publishing Monday's edition. A senior executive with the company also said Rupert Murdoch had given him his “personal assurance” that the Sun would not be shut down.

Almost 40 people have now been arrested as a result of numerous probes into the illegal news gathering and bribery scandal – including the former News International chief executive of Rebekah Brooks and ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who also served as Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief.

Police said no one has been charged as of yet in the bribery investigation.

Last month, British police arrested four men, including one of their own, as part of their phone hacking investigation at the News of the World.

Rupert Murdoch's media empire has agreed to pay large payouts to 37 phone-hacking victims, including British actor Jude Law, football player Ashley Cole and former deputy prime minister John Prescott.

The High Court in London heard details of new settlements totaling about $1 million for illegal eavesdropping by Murdoch-owned tabloids on celebrities' phone conversations. The scandal prompted Murdoch to close the 168-year-old News of the World weekly tabloid last July.