UK police arrest 3 in police bribery investigation

British police arrest 3 in investigation into bribery of police by journalists

Associated Press

LONDON (AP) -- A journalist from Rupert Murdoch's Sun tabloid and two other suspects were arrested Thursday as part of an investigation into corrupt links between the British police and the press, officials said.

The bribery investigation is running alongside two other probes into phone and computer hacking sparked by revelations that reporters at Murdoch's now-shuttered News of the World tabloid routinely intercepted communications of those in the public eye.

Police said the arrests early Thursday were the result of information passed on from Murdoch's News Corp., which has vowed to get to the bottom of criminality at his British newspaper subsidiary, News International.

The company's management and standards committee is carrying out its own internal investigations into the U.K. newspapers still in Murdoch's stable — The Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times — and has been cooperating with the police investigations.

News International confirmed that one suspect arrested in the dawn raids Thursday worked at The Sun newspaper but would not name the journalist. He was identified as Duncan Larcombe, The Sun's 36-year-old royal editor, by other British media including the Press Association and Sky News.

Police did not name the suspects but said a 36-year-old man was arrested at his home in Kent on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and cause misconduct in a public office. He was being questioned at a Kent police station.

Larcombe has testified that he had never paid a police officer for a story or hacked computers, telling a U.K. judge-led inquiry into press wrongdoing that he always acted ethically while at the Sun.

In a witness statement to the inquiry, Larcombe acknowledged that his paper sometimes paid members of the public for stories. He said all such payments had to be authorized by the news desk.

Police said two other people — a 42-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman — are being questioned at a Lancashire police station after being arrested at their home early Thursday. The man, a former member of the armed forces, was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and the woman was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting that misconduct, police said.

Officers searched the homes of those under arrest, Scotland Yard added.

In all, 43 people have been arrested in three parallel investigations into alleged bribery of public officials, phone voice mail hacking and computer hacking — including at least 25 past and present employees of News International. Some have been arrested more than once on suspicion of different offenses.

Britain's chief prosecutor said Wednesday that criminal charges are being considered against 11 people in four cases related to hacking investigations.

Four journalists, one police officer and six other people are involved in those cases, the first to be referred to prosecutors since the probes were launched amid public outrage that journalists at Murdoch's News of the World had routinely intercepted voice mails of celebrities and crime victims.

Murdoch closed the 168-year-old tabloid in July, while British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a sweeping, judge-led inquiry into British media ethics to determine why an initial 2006 police investigation into phone hacking failed to uncover the scope of the problem.

That inquiry, headed by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, has heard extensive sworn testimony about gross criminal acts committed by tabloid reporters, including descriptions of how reporters hacked into the phone of a missing girl later found murdered.

Celebrities have described extreme media harassment and said they felt stalked and trapped by overzealous, unscrupulous reporters.

The Leveson Inquiry, expected to eventually propose reforms to the press system, resumes on Monday.

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Cassandra Vinograd can be reached at http://twitter.com/CassVinograd

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