Murdoch To Fly To London After Sun Journalist Arrests
Rupert Murdoch is expected to fly to London this week after reassuring staff he would not sell The Sun in the wake of a second wave of arrests at the newspaper.
Five senior journalists were among eight people arrested on Saturday over allegations of improper payments to police and public officials.
It is expected Mr Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, will visit staff in London towards the end of the week to deal with the latest crisis to rock one of his British newspapers.
A serving officer in Surrey Police, a Ministry of Defence employee and a serving officer in the Armed Forces were also detained by officers from Operation Elveden.
The operation has widened to include suspected corruption involving public officials as well as police officers.
Operation Elveden - which runs alongside the Met's Operation Weeting team - was launched as the phone-hacking scandal erupted last July with allegations about the now-defunct News of the World targeting Milly Dowler's mobile phone.
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, sparked speculation that the red top would go the same way as the News of the World.
They followed the arrests two weeks ago of four current and former Sun employees, as well as a police officer.
However, a leaked memo from Tom Mockridge, chief executive of News International - part of News Corp - to staff said that Mr Murdoch had personally assured him of his "total commitment to continue to own and publish" the paper.
A News International spokeswoman said: "The statement sets out News Corporation and Rupert's position and support for News International and The Sun."
Mr Mockridge also said he had written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to seek clarification about independent oversight of the police investigation.
An IPCC spokesman said: "We await receipt of any letter, and will respond appropriately."
The Sun editor Dominic Mohan said he was shocked by the developments but would focus on putting out tomorrow's edition.
He said: "I'm as shocked as anyone by (the) 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."
The five journalists were arrested at addresses in London, Kent and Essex 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 these offences.
All five have been bailed to dates in May.
A 39-year-old serving Surrey Police officer, a 39-year-old Ministry of Defence employee and a 36-year-old member of the Armed Forces were also arrested at their homes on suspicion of corruption, misconduct in a public office and conspiracy in relation to both.
All three have been released on bail to dates in March and May.
A statement from News Corp said its Management and Standards Committee (MSC) had provided information to the Elveden investigation which led to the arrests.
It said it had also provided the option of "immediate legal representation" to those arrested.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "Journalists are reeling at seeing five more of their colleagues thrown to the wolves in what many sense to be a witch-hunt."
She added: "Once again Rupert Murdoch is trying to pin the blame on individual journalists hoping that a few scalps will salvage his corporate reputation."
Tom Watson MP, who sits on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, yesterday told Channel 4 News that News International bosses may be called back to give further evidence to the committee.
"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."