Five arrested in British tabloid bribery inquiry

LONDON — The criminal investigation into British tabloid skullduggery turned full force on a second Rupert Murdoch publication Saturday, with the arrest of four current and former journalists from the Sun on suspicion of bribing police.

A police officer was also held, and authorities searched the newspaper's offices as part an investigation into illegal payments for information.

The arrests spread the scandal over tabloid wrongdoing — which has already shut down one Murdoch paper, the News of the World — to Britain's best-selling newspaper.

Murdoch's News Corp. confirmed that all four were current or former Sun employees. The BBC and other British media identified them as former managing editor Graham Dudman, former deputy editor Fergus Shanahan, current head of news Chris Pharo and crime editor Mike Sullivan.

A fifth man, a 29-year-old police officer, was arrested at the London station where he works.

Officers searched the men's homes and the east London headquarters of the media mogul's British newspapers for evidence.

The investigation into whether reporters illegally paid police for information is running parallel to a police inquiry into phone hacking by Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World.

Police said Saturday's arrests were made based on information provided by the Management and Standards Committee of Murdoch's News Corp., the internal body tasked with rooting out wrongdoing.

News Corp. said it was cooperating with police.

Thirteen people have now been arrested in the bribery probe, though none has yet been charged. They include Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of Murdoch's News International; ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson — who is also Prime Minister David Cameron's former communications chief; and journalists from the News of the World and the Sun.

Two of the London police force's top officers resigned in the wake of the revelation last July that the News of the World had eavesdropped on the cellphone voicemail messages of celebrities, athletes, politicians and even an abducted teenager in its quest for stories.

Five arrested in British tabloid bribery inquiry 01/28/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 28, 2012 7:30pm]

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