The Met Police has confirmed an escalation into its Operation Elveden bribes probe after yesterday arresting a chief superintendent for contact with journalists where no money changed hands.
Last month senior terror policewoman April Casburn was jailed for 15 months after calling the News of the World with information after it was alleged that she had asked for money. No money changed hands and no story appeared.
Yesterday a 51-year-old Met Police chief superintendent aged 51 was arrested at his home in Wiltshire in a 6am raid.
Police said he was questioned on suspicion of misconduct in a public office following information supplied by News Corp’s Management and Standards Committee.
This was arrest number 61 in the Elveden investigation and the first which does not relate to allegations of cash payments. Some 20 Sun journalists have been arrested so far as a result of the Elveden Inquiry. None have yet been charged with any crime.
The Met Police said in a statement: “Operation Elveden is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and is running in conjunction with Operation Weeting, the Metropolitan Police Service phone-hacking inquiry.
“Its remit to date has been into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials. Today's arrest, however, relates to the suspected release of confidential information but not alleged payment.”
Fleet Street insiders are said to be shocked that the mere revelation of confidential information could lead to arrest for police sources. This could apply to almost any non-official information exchange between journalists and police.
More than 55 UK journalists have been arrested over the last two years as a result of the various police inquiries stemming from the News of the World hacking scandal.
The latest arrest came as the Home Office yesterday revealed it was to consult on adopting a recommendation from the Leveson report which would significantly weaken journalists’ ability to resist police requests for confidential information about sources.
The Home Office is proposing to water down the current special status for journalistic material under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.