Ian Burrell: How far will Rupert Murdoch go to save the Currant Bun?

Share
Related Topics

Is this the end of The Sun? Rupert Murdoch is reportedly flying to the UK, ostensibly to save a newspaper he has loved since he bought it in 1969 from being engulfed by an unprecedented police bribery scandal.

But as Tom Mockridge, the loyal Antipodean lieutenant he has placed in charge of his wobbling British newspaper empire, issued an assurance to The Sun's staff that the media mogul had a "total commitment" to continue publishing the paper, journalists on the tabloid were beginning to doubt it had a future.

The News of the World was shut down last July apparently to create a firewall that would protect the more lucrative brand of the daily sister paper from being burned by the phone-hacking scandal. Many News of the World evacuees were given refuge at The Sun.

But in recent months staff on the daily have felt anything but protected by News International (NI) and certainly not by the News Corp Management and Standards Committee (MSC), which is operating from separate offices within NI and has a remit to clean up the company's reputation. The MSC has made available to the Metropolitan Police a vast cache of internal emails which are being sifted carefully for words that might relate to criminal activity.

The Sun's journalists are scared. The shockwaves began in November with the arrest of the popular district reporter Jamie Pyatt, who was based in Windsor and known for his royal scoops. Then police arrested Cheryl Carter, The Sun's beauty editor and, more importantly, former executive personal assistant to ex-Sun editor and NI chief executive Rebekah Brooks.

By the end of January, raids had been carried out on the homes of four current and former members of The Sun staff: Mike Sullivan, the veteran crime reporter; head of news Chris Pharo; former deputy editor Fergus Shanahan; and former managing editor Graham Dudman. These were people at the very heart of The Sun's news operation.

The Sun has always been published with a swagger of self-confidence, from the days when Mr Murdoch put editor Larry Lamb in charge and changed it from a left-leaning publication to the home of Page Three girls. But there's not much confidence on the Currant Bun at the moment. Word quickly leaked back that the January raids had been no gentle knock on the door. Some of the searches took 13 hours and were carried out by teams of up to six officers, some of them highly experienced detectives seconded from elite squads.

Those arrested yesterday included a serving Surrey Police officer, a member of the armed forces and a Ministry of Defence employee. There were five Sun journalists among those held, all of them senior, including associate editor Geoff Webster, picture editor John Edwards, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker and reporter John Sturgis. Most significantly from the point of view of The Sun newsroom, police arrested John Kay, the paper's multi-award winning chief reporter and a man revered by his colleagues. Kay, who is known for having excellent contacts in high places, is regarded as a model Sun reporter.

Dominic Mohan, The Sun's editor, appealed for calm and claimed, on the paper's day off, that his staff were focused on producing Monday's edition. Hardly. Mohan appeared before the Leveson inquiry and emerged fairly unscathed. Dummy editions were also recently produced of a Sun on Sunday newspaper which NI had hoped to launch as a replacement for the News of the World. The arrests surely mean there is no prospect of that happening now.

Even if Mr Murdoch flies in, it is not clear just what he could do to help his stricken paper. But with News Corp releasing financial figures last week showing that the phone-hacking scandal has cost the business £126m already, he will come under great pressure to withdraw from a sector that contributes very little to his global media empire and has become a severe embarrassment.

The Sun, then, could go the way of the News of the World. Except that there are options. Waiting in the wings, should Mr Murdoch decide to sell, are other magnates – most notably Richard Desmond, who has previously expressed interest in getting his hands on The Sun.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test