Rupert Murdoch flies to UK to tackle News International crisis

 

Rupert Murdoch will arrive at the Wapping headquarters of his British newspapers tomorrow to take charge of the latest crisis involving one of his titles, sources say.

Ten current and former senior reporters and executives at The Sun 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 has personally told him of his "total commitment to continue to own and publish" The Sun.

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

It is understood he is due to fly into London later today, although News International declined to confirm details of his timetable.

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 was 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.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, 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.

PA

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