In another embarrassing development for Rupert Murdoch's British media group News International which is embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal, five senior journalists from The Sun were on Saturday arrested over allegations of paying bribes to police for information.
According to Sky News, which is part-owned by Mr. Murdoch, those arrested included The Sun's deputy editor Geoff Webster, picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker, and reporter John Sturgis.
Editor Dominic Mohan said he was “shocked'' while some journalists alleged that the newspaper was a victim of a “witchhunt''.
“I'm as shocked as anyone by today's arrests but am determined to lead The Sun through these difficult times. I have a brilliant staff and we have a duty to serve our readers and will continue to do that. Our focus is on putting out Monday's newspaper,” said Mr Mohan.
This brings the total number of Sun journalists arrested to nine, including two who have since left the paper. Last week, its head of news, Chris Pharo, crime Editor Mike Sullivan were arrested along with the former Managing Editor, Graham Dudman, and ex-Deputy Editor Fergus Shanahan. All were released on bail.
The five detained on Saturday were among the eight people rounded up as part of an ongoing investigation into allegedly corrupt links between the media and the police in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal
Others included a police officer, a serving member of the armed forces and a Ministry of Defence employee. They were accused of corruption, misconduct in a public office and conspiracy in relation to both.
Deborah Glass, deputy chairman of the Independent Police Commission, said: “Today's arrests are further evidence of the strenuous efforts being undertaken to identify police officers who may have taken corrupt payments.''
In a statement, News Corporation, parent company of News International, said that its Management and Standards Committee (MSC) provided the information that led to the arrests.
“News Corporation remains committed to ensuring that unacceptable news-gathering practices by individuals in the past will not be repeated and last summer authorised the MSC to co-operate with the relevant authorities. The MSC will continue to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to protect legitimate journalistic privilege and sources, private or personal information and legal privilege,'' it said.