Arrested Sun journalist 'questioned over £50 lunch claim'

One of the Sun journalists arrested as part of a police corruption probe has been questioned about an expense claim for £50 spent on taking two policemen to lunch, The Times reports today.

On Saturday five senior Sun journalists were arrested in dawn raids by police from the Operation Elveden corruption inquiry. The arrests followed those of four other senior current and former Sun journalists two weeks ago.

Those arrested, and freed on police bail, include: former and current Sun deputy editors Fergus Shanahan and Geoff Webster, former managing editor Graham Dudman, head of news Chris Pharo and two veteran reporters, crime correspondent Mike Sullivan and chief reporter John Kay.

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch is said to be flying into London this week on a pre-arranged trip. Over the weekend he assured News International chief executive Tom Mockbridge of his ‘total commitment to continue to own and publish’The Sun.

According to The Times, insiders fear News Corp has been handing over ‘internal emails, expenses claims and other documents to the police without regard for the public interest of the stories to which they relate”.

Police are understood to be acting on information found in a cache of 300 million emails, expense claims, phone records and other documents which News Corp’s Management and Standards Committee has been analysing.

The Times quotes one senior Sun journalist: ‘It is all very well for Rupert Murdoch to try to put his arm around us, but he cannot stop what he has set in motion with the MSC. What hurts most is that The Sun had a special bond with Rupert. He loved its wit and mischief. This is a company that used to value loyalty above all else. And now the MSC is flinging people off a cliff.

‘People are back at their desks bringing the paper out but they feel completely betrayed.”

The Times reports today that one of the Sun journalists arrested two weeks ago is believed to have been questioned about an expense claim for £50 for taking two police officers to lunch. A Sun source told the paper that a detective suggested to him that this was evidence of corruption.

According to The Times, ‘it is thought that’the MSC has handed over expenses claims only at the request of police acting on other information.

The Times was itself drawn into the widening crisis facing News Corp’s UK newspapers when it admitted to the Leveson Inquiry last week that a reporter ilegally hacked an email account to expose the identity of police blogger Nightjack in 2009 and that this fact had been concealed from the High Court in order for it to overturn an interim injunction.

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