Rupert Murdoch has reassured staff of his “total commitment” to continue to own and publish The Sun after five members of staff were arrested Saturday, it has emerged.
The men were among eight people arrested today in connection with the probe into inappropriate payments to police and public officials, which also included a serving member of the Armed Forces, a Ministry of Defence employee and a serving officer at Surrey Police.
In an internal memo to staff at News International, the company that owns The Sun and The Times, chief executive Tom Mockridge said he had had a “personal assurance” from Rupert Murdoch today that he plans to continue to own and publish The Sun, according to the contents of this memo revealed here.
Mockridge said in the memo: “I understand the pressure many of you are under and have the greatest admiration for everyone’s continued professionalism.
“The Sun has a proud history of delivering ground-breaking journalism. You should know that I have had a personal assurance today from Rupert Murdoch about his total commitment to continue to own and publish The Sun newspaper”.
He also told staff: “Today we are facing our greatest challenge” and added he was “very saddened” by the arrests of deputy editor Geoff Webster, picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker, and John Sturgis, who is a news editor.
“This news is difficult for everyone on The Sun and particularly for those of you who work closely with those involved.
“Some of the individuals arrested have been instrumental in breaking important stories about public bodies, for example the scandal of our under-resourced troops in Iraq”.
He said they must take care not to “pre-judge” the outcome of police interviews and said it was vital that “proper due process should take its course”.
He confirmed the company had provided legal support. Mockridge said he had written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to seek clarification about the process of independent oversight of the police investigation.
The editor of the newspaper, Dominic Mohan, said he was shocked by the developments but would focus on putting out Monday’s edition.
He said: “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”.
Five men aged 45, 50, 68, 52 and 47 were arrested at addresses in London, Kent and Essex on suspicion of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office, and conspiracy in relation to both these offences.
They are being questioned at police stations in London and Kent.
A 39-year-old serving Surrey Police officer, a 39-year-old Ministry of Defence employee and a 36-year-old member of the armed forces were also arrested at their homes on suspicion of corruption, misconduct in a public office and conspiracy in relation to both.