'Network' of corruption uncovered at Sun, say police

 

Police investigating allegations that public officials unlawfully
accepted money from journalists think they have uncovered a "network" of
corruption, the Leveson Inquiry was told today.

Evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police suggested a "culture of illegal payments" at The Sun newspaper, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers told the inquiry into press standards.

Payments appeared to have authorised at a "senior level" within the newspaper and journalists recognised that "this behaviour" was "illegal", said Ms Akers, who is heading investigations.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation - which owns The Sun, later issued a statement saying the wrongdoing described no longer existed at the newspaper.

Ms Akers told Lord Justice Leveson, who is overseeing the inquiry, that "payments by journalists to public officials" had been identified in the "police, military, health and Government".

"The evidence suggests that payments were being made across all areas of public life," she said in a written statement to the inquiry.

"The current assessment of the evidence is that it reveals a network of corrupted officials.

"There appears to have been a culture at The Sun of illegal payments, and systems have been created to facilitate such payments whilst hiding the identity of the officials receiving the money."

Emails seen by police indicated that payments to "sources" were openly referred to within The Sun.

"There is recognition by the journalists that this behaviour is illegal, reference being made to staff 'risking losing their pension or job', to the need for 'care' and to the need for 'cash payments'," Ms Akers added.

"The evidence further suggests that the authority level for such payments to be made is provided at a senior level within the newspaper."

She said cases being investigated did not involve "the odd drink or meal".

"Instead, these are cases in which arrests have been made involving the delivery of regular, frequent and sometimes significant sums of money to a small number of public officials," said Ms Akers.

"Some of the initial emails reveal, upon further detailed investigation, multiple payments to individuals of thousands of pounds."

In one case the "figure" over several years was more than £80,000 and there was "mention" in emails of public officials on "retainers", said DAC Akers.

One arrested journalist had, over several years, received more than £150,000 in cash to pay sources - a "number of whom were public officials", she added.

Ms Akers told the inquiry that 22 people had been "arrested and bailed" - 16 journalists, three police officers, a member of the armed forces, a member of the Ministry of Defence and a "person acting as a conduit to a public official".

"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," said Mr Murdoch, who yesterday launched The Sun on Sunday in the wake of the News of the World's closure last July, in the statement.

"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."

Police are investigating allegations of illegal payments by journalists and hacking.

Ms Akers said News International - part of News Corporation - had disclosed material indicating that police had been receiving payments from News of the World journalists last year.

News Corporation had established a management and standards committee which was responding to police requests for information.

She said the police's aim was to "identify criminality" not uncover "legitimate sources".

"The purpose of police action to date has been to proactively investigate the criminality which has been identified," added Ms Akers.

"The aim has never been to threaten the existence of The Sun."

PA

Suggested Topics
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home