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12:01am UK, Sunday January 29, 2012
Four current and former senior staff at The Sun and a serving policeman have been arrested as part of the investigation into payments made to police officers.
Three of the group were arrested following early-morning raids on their homes. The fourth attended a police station after police went to the wrong house.
Police said all five had now been released on bail, pending further inquiries.
The police officer, a 29-year-old member of the Territorial Policing command, was detained at the station in central London where he works.
He was arrested on suspicion of corruption, misconduct in a public office and conspiracy in relation to the alleged offences.
The other four men were quizzed at police stations in London and Essex on suspicion of corruption, aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office and conspiracy.
Arrested: Graham Dudman, former managing editor at The Sun
According to Sky sources, they are The Sun’s head of news Chris Pharo, 42, crime editor Mike Sullivan, 48, former managing editor Graham Dudman, 48, and Fergus Shanahan, 56, a former deputy editor.
All of the suspects were arrested by officers working on Operation Elveden, which is running alongside the Operation Weeting phone-hacking inquiry.
Police also searched their home addresses and the offices of News International in Wapping, East London.
News International was the publisher of the News Of The World (NOTW), which was shut down after a series of phone-hacking revelations.
It also publishes The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.
The arrests followed information given to police by the Management and Standards Committee of News Corporation, News International’s parent company.
News International’s offices in Wapping have been searched by police
Sky’s crime correspondent Martin Brunt said: “The information that police are working on, largely, has been supplied by the company itself who have done a trawl of staff emails, expenses sheets, expenses claims made by journalists.”
Scotland Yard said the information related to suspected payments to police officers and was “not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately”.
News Corporation confirmed the four arrests in a statement and stressed its cooperation with police.
It said: “News Corporation made a commitment last summer that unacceptable news gathering practices by individuals in the past would not be repeated.
“It commissioned the Management and Standards Committee (MSC) to undertake a review of all News International titles, regardless of cost, and to proactively co-operate with law enforcement and other authorities if potentially relevant information arose at those titles.
“As a result of that review, which is ongoing, the MSC provided information to the Elveden investigation which led to today’s arrests.”
The information that police are working on, largely, has been supplied by the company itself who have done a trawl of staff emails, expenses sheets, expenses claims made by journalists.
Martin Brunt, Sky’s crime correspondent
The statement added: “News Corporation will continue to give its total support to the continued work of the MSC and to ensure that legitimate journalism is vigorously pursued in both the public interest and in full compliance with the law.”
Operation Elveden was launched after police were handed documents suggesting News International journalists had made illegal payments to officers.
Others questioned as part of the inquiry include former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, ex-Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson and former NOTW managing editor Stuart Kuttner.
The paper’s one-time royal editor Clive Goodman, former NOTW crime editor Lucy Panton and Sun district editor Jamie Pyatt have also been quizzed.
Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are both former editors of the NOTW, which was closed in July at the height of the hacking scandal after it emerged murdered teenager Milly Dowler’s phone had been targeted.
The latest arrests bring the number of people questioned in the Elveden investigation to 14.