11:20am UK, Saturday February 11, 2012
Eight people, including a serving member of the Armed Forces, a female Ministry of Defence employee, and five Sun journalists have been arrested over claims of illegal payments to police and public officials.
A serving police officer was also among the eight arrested.
The Metropolitan Police said the arrests were made this morning as part of the Operation Elveden investigation into illegal payments.
The arrests mark the first time the investigation has spread beyond payments to police.
Sky News’ Martin Brunt said the deputy editor of The Sun Geoff Webster was one of those detained.
Others included The Sun’s picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker, and reporter John Sturgis.
He said staff at the paper fear Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the owners of News International which publishes The Sun, will close the tabloid down as it did its sister paper, The News of the World, over fears the paper’s brand had become too toxic.
The arrests were made after News Corporation handed information to Scotland Yard.
A journalist at newspaper told Sky: “Journalists at The Sun believe this is a witchhunt against one newspaper.”
News Corporation confirmed the arrests today.
The company said in a statement that searches had taken place at the homes of those arrested.
It said legal representation is being made available to those arrested.
“News Corporation… is committed to making certain that legitimate journalism is vigorously pursued in both the public interest and in full compliance with the law,” the statement said.
It is the second high-profile batch of arrests at The Sun newspaper in as many weeks.
The previous batch of arrest was described by sources within News Corporation as “draining the swamp”.