Scotland Yard's probe into the alleged bribery and corruption of police and public officials dramatically widened yesterday with the dawn arrests of two journalist from the Mirror and Express groups.
Justin Penrose, the Sunday Mirror's crime correspondent, and Tom Savage, the Daily Star Sunday's deputy news editor, were arrested at their homes early yesterday morning. The Metropolitan Police later searched the two journalists' desks in the newsrooms. Computers and personal files were removed by the police.
Although staff from both papers described the Met operation as a "low key raid", this is believed to the first significant search of a newsroom other than a News International title material belonging to journalists have been taken by the police in connection with Operation Elveden, the Met's corruption probe that is running alongside the force's phone hacking investigation.
Trinity Mirror confirmed the arrest of Mr Penrose. The 37 year old reporter spent two years at The Sun before joining the Mirror title in 2004. He was arrested at his home in Kent. Mr Savage, 34, was arrested at his home in south-east London in a dawn operation involving a small number of Scotland Yard officers.
A statement from Trinity Mirror said "Following a pre-arranged meeting at 11am, the police now have in their possession various items from Justin Penrose's desk, including his computer. There is no further comment to make at this stage."
The Independent was told that Scotland Yard called Trinity Mirrror executives early yesterday morning, informing them that arrests that were part of Operation Elveden had been made, and that three or four plain clothes officers with a court-issued warrant would be searching Mr Penrose's desk.
Mr Penrose gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in March. He said police officers "should be allowed to speak to the press about their cases without fear that they are going to be accused of corruption".
Northern and Shell confirmed the identity of their arrested employee, but would make no other comment on what had happened when the Met conducted their search. A statement from the company merely said they were assisting the police with their enquiries. However Express staff told The Independent that files and a computer had been taken.
Leveson given honorary degree
The Liverpool-born judge charged with overseeing the phone-hacking inquiry, Lord Justice Leveson, picked-up an honorary fellowship from his local university yesterday.
He received the fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University for his "outstanding contribution" to the legal profession.
"I salute his industry and patience," said His Honour David Lynch, presenting the fellowship.