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Rupert Murdoch Arrives In UK To Take Charge Of Sun Crisis

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Rupert Murdoch arrived at the Wapping headquarters of his British newspapers on Friday 17 February where he addressed staff in the wake of recent arrests at The Sun.

Murdoch, who touched down in a private plane at Luton Airport late on Thursday, has arrived in the country to take charge of the latest crisis involving one of his titles.

On Friday he left his Mayfair home and made his way to The Sun's offices amid anger at the paper over News Corporation's decision to hand over information that led to the arrests.

The media mogul, who has vowed not to sell or close the paper, is to offer further reassurance to employees.

He arrived at the Wapping HQ in a chauffeur-driven silver Range Rover clasping a copy of The Sun and beaming at the waiting photographers.

His arrival in east London follows growing disquiet over News Corp's Management Standards Committee (MSC) - formed to clean up the company following the phone hacking scandal - which passed evidence to police before officers swooped on a number of homes.

The Guardian quoted one News International employee who said Murdoch had to do more than simply "reassure" staff:

"If all he does is say to staff that he is still committed to the Sun, it won't be enough," the employee quoted by the Guardian said. "People are furious with the MSC. What they did was extraordinary and maybe illegal."

The Times tweeted that The Sun appeared to have hired extra hands to sell copies of the paper to the journalists and photographers gathered outside.

Ten current and former senior reporters and executives at the tabloid have been arrested since November over alleged corrupt payments to public officials.

There is anger at the paper that News Corporation's Management Standards Committee (MSC) - formed to clean up the company following the phone hacking scandal - gave police the information that led to the arrests.

Tom Mockridge, chief executive of News International, the UK newspapers division of News Corp, told staff at the weekend that Mr Murdoch had personally told him of his "total commitment to continue to own and publish" The Sun.

Murdoch is expected to offer further reassurances in a direct address to employees during his visit to the paper's offices in Wapping.

Five Sun journalists - including the deputy editor, picture editor and chief reporter - were held for questioning by Scotland Yard officers on Saturday on suspicion of making improper payments to police and other public officials. They have all been bailed.

The latest arrests provoked criticism that the Metropolitan Police were being heavy-handed and that the MSC had identified some journalists' confidential sources to detectives.

Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor of The Sun, which is Britain's top-selling paper, said on Monday: "There is unease about the way some of the best journalists in Fleet Street have ended up being arrested on evidence which the MSC has handed to the police."

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said it had been approached by a group of Sun journalists and was exploring ways to support them.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said in a statement: "It is not an exaggeration to say that if journalists are not allowed to offer protection to their sources - often brave people who are raising their heads above the parapet to disclose information - then the free press in the UK is dead."

The investigation into The Sun has disclosed evidence suggesting that tens of thousands of pounds a year were paid to public officials for information, a source told Reuters.

The News of the World, The Sun's sister paper, was closed last July after the revelation that it hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler following her disappearance in 2002.