LONDON - A journalist from Britain’s best-selling The Sun newspaper, reportedly its royal editor, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of illegally paying public officials, police said.
The 36-year-old journalist was held in a dawn swoop at his home in Kent, southern England, while a 42-year-old male former armed forces member and a 38-year-old woman were arrested at their home in Lancashire, northwest England.
“A Sun journalist has been arrested,” said a spokeswoman for News International, the British newspaper publishing arm of media baron Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.
British media named him as the daily tabloid’s royal editor Duncan Larcombe. The journalist was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office.
The former serviceman was detained on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and the woman on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office.
The addresses of those held were being searched.
Police said the arrests were prompted by information provided by News Corporation’s Management Standards Committee.
The independent body was set up to carry out internal investigations at News International in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World tabloid.
Revelations that the tabloid illegally accessed the voicemails of a murdered schoolgirl led Murdoch to close the top-selling Sunday newspaper last July.
Thursday’s police operation “relates to suspected payments to a public official and is not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately,” Scotland Yard said.
A total of 26 people have now been arrested since last July as part of the probe into alleged inappropriate payments to public officials, which is linked to Scotland Yard’s continuing phone-hacking investigation.
British police this week handed prosecutors files on 11 suspects which could lead to the first charges from the widespread probe into News International activities.
Four journalists, one police officer and six other people feature in the four files being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The files come from parallel police investigations into phone-hacking, bribery of public officials and the leaking of information by police to The Guardian – the paper which helped uncover the News of the World scandal.