Arrest of Sun's crime correspondent sends shockwaves through News International

Journalists in Sun’s newsroom were described by angry insiders as 'close to boiling point' with many believing that another 10 arrests may still follow

The dawn raid and arrest this morning at the Hertfordshire home of the Sun’s crime correspondent, Anthony France, has sent shockwaves through the new management regime at News International in London, with senior sources revealing that those at the top of the Murdoch-owned company mistakenly believed Scotland Yard’s corruption-related arrests had ended.

Journalists in the Sun’s newsroom were described by angry insiders as “close to boiling point” with many believing that at least another 10 arrests may still follow.

Mr France, 39, was detained and questioned at a police station in north London over suspicion of making illegal payments to public officials. 

Two serving  Metropolitan Police officers, one from the force’s Specialist Crime and Operations Command, the other from the specialist operations unit, were also arrested and questioned on suspicion of misconduct in public office.

The crime correspondent, with a reputation for obtaining major undercover exclusives that included an expose of a security flaw in Westminster, is the 22nd Sun journalist to be arrested as part of the Met’s probes into phone hacking and  alleged corruption of officials in public office  between 2004 and 2011.

News of the journalist’s arrest was broken in an email message to staff by the new chief executive of News International, Mike Darcey, who has only recently taken the helm at the company’s Wapping headquarters following the departure of Tom Mockridge.

Mr Darcey’s message to NI staff  said he was “very sorry” to announce the arrest  and that he “appreciated how hard it was to hear this news”. He added  it was “particularly disappointing that these incidents, the first under my watch, and which have become less frequent, continue to take place.”

Promises that legal support for Mr France would be provided, and that information on the state of the police investigation would be called for, appears to have done little to improve morale on UK’s leading redtop.

Most of  the NI arrests are related to information  or investigative leads that have been provided by News Corporation’s Management and Standards Committee (MSC).  Over 300 million internal emails have been be searched using “key words” technology . The process has identified emails and other messages  which the Met ‘s anti-corruption investigation, Operation Elveden, regards as potential criminal evidence.

Scotland Yard said today that the latest arrests followed information that had been passed to them from the MSC.

A Met statement said the arrests “relate to payments to  police officers and are not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately.”

Mr Darcey, who was previously BSkyB’s number two before he took over from Mr Mockridge at the end of last year, worked closely with James  Murdoch during his time at the satellite broadcaster.

The chief executive’s claim to have been “disappointed”  by the arrest of Mr France,  indicates that the internal independence of the MSC, which allegedly operates a Chinese wall between itself and NI, is still in force.  The MSC, chaired by Lord Grabiner,  reports to Gerson Zweisach, News Corp's general counsel in New York.

At the beginning of this month  Mr France wrote a story in the Sun which claimed five police officers and a civilian worker had been “axed or forced to resign” from the Met’s hacking and anti-corruption investigations team.  He claimed the departures were over “serious misconduct”. 

Scotland Yard did not confirm the allegations made in the story.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all