'Illegal payments culture at Sun'

 

A senior London police officer heading criminal investigations into allegations that public officials unlawfully accepted money from journalists today told the Leveson Inquiry how inquiries suggested a "culture" of "illegal payments" at The Sun.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Sue Akers, who is leading the Metropolitan Police's latest inquiries into allegations of phone hacking, email hacking and corrupt payments, said investigations pointed to payments being made to officials in "all areas of public life".

She said payments did not amount to an "odd drink or meal" but "frequent" and "sometimes significant" amounts.

Evidence suggested that one public official was paid around £80,000 over a period of years and indicated that a journalist received more than £150,000 over several years to pay "sources", said DAC Akers.

Lord Justice Leveson was told that police were investigating "possible offences" of corruption, misconduct in public office and conspiracy.

DAC Akers said a number of Sun employees and police officers - plus a member of the Ministry of Defence and a member of the armed forces - had been arrested and she gave an update on the investigation.

"It (the investigation) suggests payments were being made to public officials in all areas of public life," she said.

"There also appears to have been a culture at The Sun of illegal payments and systems created to facilitate those payments."

She suggested that journalists appeared to have been "well aware" that "what they were doing was unlawful".

DAC Akers said payments did not appear to amount to the "odd drink or meal" but to: "Regular, frequent and sometimes significant amounts of money to small numbers of public officials by journalists."

She told the inquiry that there was evidence of "multiple payments amounting to thousands of pounds".

DAC Akers said one public official had "over a period of several years (received) amounts in excess of £80,000".

She added: "One arrested journalist has over several years received over £150,000 in cash to pay his sources."

Ms Akers said because of the nature of the investigation it was "easier" to identify journalists than public officials.

But she said police hoped that more investigation would reveal the identities of public officials.

Lord Justice Leveson asked to be kept informed of the progress of police inquiries and said he did not intend to allow his inquiry to prejudice any criminal investigations.

Ms Akers told Lord Justice Leveson that most "disclosures" led to "gossip" stories.

"The vast majority of the disclosures that have been made have led to stories which I would describe as 'salacious gossip'," she said. "Not what I would describe as being remotely in the public interest."

Commenting on Ms Akers' evidence, News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said: "As I've made very clear, we have vowed to do everything we can to get to the bottom of prior wrongdoings in order to set us on the right path for the future.

"That process is well under way. The practises Sue Akers described at the Leveson Inquiry are ones of the past and no longer exist at The Sun. We have already emerged a stronger company."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Insight Analyst

£32 - £37K + extensive benefits: Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Ins...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18 - 20k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to...

Guru Careers: Project Manager

£30 - 40k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Project Manager is needed to join a leading s...

Guru Careers: Creative Artworker

£20 - 25k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Creative Artworker is needed to join a highly...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral