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New details of illegal cash culture at Murdoch's tabloid

February 27, 2012 18:05 IST

DollarsNew revelations by the police on Monday pointed to a 'culture of illegal payments' at media baron Rupert Murdoch's Sun tabloid for information to be used in sensational stories.

Appearing before the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press, Sue Akers, deputy assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, said there was 'a culture at The Sun of illegal payments'.

Akers, who is heading three police inquiries related to the phone-hacking controversy, said the payments had been made not only to corrupt police officials for information but also to officials holding office in various departments.

In a day that saw more out-of court settlements with Murdoch's company, Akers said payments had been made to a 'network of corrupted officials', who were not in contact with

each other, but whom journalists contacted for information.

Akers added that the vast majority of the payments to public officials led to 'salacious gossip' and breaches of trust and privacy rather than stories in the public interest.

She said the police hoped to arrest the concerned public officials in future.

She said one public official received more than 80,000 pounds over several years, while one journalist received more than 150,000 pounds in cash to pay sources, a number of whom were public officials.

There was also the 'trade craft' involving hiding payment to sources by making them to a friend or relative of the source.

It was authorised at 'very senior level' within the newspaper, she added.

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Prasun Sonwalkar in London
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