Murdoch flies in to confront growing crisis at Wapping HQ
Rupert Murdoch is expected to speak to staff at News International today
The last time Rupert Murdoch flew into London to confront a crisis, one of his newspapers published its final edition the day he arrived, and one of his favourite chief executives resigned in the days that followed. He'll be hoping for a happier outcome this time after travelling to the UK last night to meet with his furious staff.
The media mogul is expected to address staff at the News International headquarters in Wapping today amid rising anger among them that they are being thrown to the wolves to protect senior executives.
Several experienced members of staff, or former employees, have been arrested as part of police inquiries into allegations that police and other officials were paid to pass information to News International. Most recently, on Saturday, five senior staff at The Sun were arrested, and later bailed.
Staff at The Sun and other Murdoch titles are increasingly angry that News Corp's Management Standards Committee (MSC) – which was formed to clean up the company following the phone hacking scandal that destroyed The News of The World – gave police the information that led to the arrests.
At stake, they believe, are not just the careers of individuals who have been central to the success of The Sun but one of the cornerstones of reporting – that reporters do not reveal the identities of sources when anonymity has been promised. Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, 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 committee includes former Daily Telegraph editor Will Lewis and the PR executive Simon Greenberg. It reports directly to New York and is under instruction to investigate the allegations thoroughly.
Sun journalists have already started planning legal action against News international and Mr Murdoch's arrival in London is intended to head off such a move before further damage is done to the reputation of News International papers at home and abroad.
Mr Murdoch, who smiled at reporters and photographers as he was chauffeur-driven into his Mayfair home last night, is expected to offer assurances to staff in a face-to-face meeting.
His address will come just a few days after Tom Mockridge, who took over as chief executive of News International from Rebekah Brooks, told staff that the mogul had given a personal commitment "to continue to own and publish The Sun".
Ms Brooks lost her job after it was disclosed that teenage murder victim Milly Dowler's phone may have been hacked by people working for The News of the World. Mr Murdoch flew into London in an attempt to biolster her position but she resigned within days.
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