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Operation Elveden: Five bailed in police payment probe

29 January 12 06:37
The Sun newspaper

Four former and current Sun journalists and a police officer arrested over alleged payments made to police by journalists have been released on bail.

Scotland Yard said the men, aged 29 to 57, were arrested at addresses in London and Essex.

The 29-year-old, a serving officer in the Metropolitan Police's Territorial Policing Command, was arrested at his work - a central London police station.

News Corporation said it had provided information to the police.

The offices of the Sun's parent company News International in Wapping have been searched.

The BBC understands the arrested journalists are ex-deputy editor Fergus Shanahan, ex-managing editor Graham Dudman, crime editor Mike Sullivan and head of news Chris Pharo.

The Met said the arrests, part of Operation Elveden, were prompted by information given to police by News Corporation.

'Draining the swamp'

A News International source told the BBC it was an effort aimed at "draining the swamp" so as to restore journalistic integrity at News International titles.

News Corporation and its management and standards committee (MSC) issued a statement following the arrests saying it had made a commitment last summer that unacceptable news gathering practices by individuals in the past would not be repeated.

"It commissioned the management and standards committee 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 [these] arrests."

News Corporation also said it would "continue to give its total support to the continued work of the MSC and to ensure that legitimate journalism is vigorously pursued in both the public interest and in full compliance with the law".

An internal email from Tom Mockridge, chief executive of Sun owner News International, on Saturday told staff the company was providing legal support to those being interviewed by police, while officers were conducting a limited search at the Sun's offices, supervised by the MSC's lawyers.

Operation Elveden is supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and is being run in conjunction with Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's inquiry into phone hacking by the now-closed News of the World (NoW).

A spokesman said Saturday's arrests and searches related to suspected payments to officers and was not about seeking journalists to reveal their sources regarding information obtained legitimately.

The police have said that two men, aged 49 and 57, were arrested at their homes in Essex. A 48-year-old man was detained at his home in north London. Officers have searched their homes.

A fourth man, aged 42, was arrested at 1100 GMT when he attended an east London police station.

All were questioned on suspicion of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office and conspiracy in relation to both offences.

The officer was questioned on suspicion of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, misconduct in a public office, as well as conspiracy in relation to both offences. His home was also searched.

He is the second serving officer to be arrested as part of Operation Elveden. The first, a 52-year-old woman, was arrested last month and bailed, police said.

A total of 14 people have now been arrested as part of the inquiry. Thirteen were arrested by the Met and the one by the IPCC.

Ongoing inquiries

IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said she was satisfied with the "strenuous efforts being made by this investigation to identify police officers who may have taken corrupt payments".

She said she had considered the IPCC's role and whether to use its powers directly in relation to the latest suspects, but said "given the interlocking nature of the investigation and arrests which do not just involve police officers, I believe the priority is not around whose powers should be used, but for an effective investigation that brings wrongdoers to justice.

"While we continue to provide a supervisory role across Operation Elveden, I will consider each referral on its own merit and we will investigate independently if appropriate."

Among those questioned during the inquiries were former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, ex-Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson, former NoW managing editor Stuart Kuttner, the paper's former royal editor Clive Goodman, and its former crime editor Lucy Panton.

The total number of people arrested in the inquiries now stands at 28. Two were released without further action, and 26 remain on police bail.

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