News International CEO Criticizes Scotland Yard's Handling of Arrests at 'Sun'

Newscom

Tom Mockridge says police ignored pleas from the U.K. newspaper arm of News Corp. to make detentions in a probe into illegal payments to officials more dignified.

News International CEO Tom Mockridge, a long-time Rupert Murdoch lieutenant, has expressed his disapproval with the way the London Metropolitan Police, better known as Scotland Yard, has carried out arrests of company journalists in its probe into illegal payments to public officials here.

News International is the U.K. newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp. The latest staffer of its Sun tabloid on Tuesday was detained in the investigation and later bailed. That brought to 14 the number of current or former Sun staff to have been detained. 

In a strongly worded staff memo obtained by the Guardian, Mockridge said that Scotland Yard has ignored pleas from the company to ensure that detained staffers were treated in a dignified manner.

"We are of course all concerned that these arrests continue to take place," Mockridge said in his memo, according to the paper. "I am also disappointed that representations made on behalf of [News Corp.'s management and standards committee] about how arrests take place have not been taken up."

He added: "We fully accept that the [Metropolitan Police] is within its rights to carry out its duties. However, we had hoped that the high degree of co-operation provided by the company would be reflected in how they conduct their activities."

The Guardian said lower-level News International staffers have often been arrested in front of families. Amid the various probes into News International, including the phone hacking investigation, more senior people have been allowed to simply go to police stations.

Mockridge, who is seen by some as a possible future CEO of the News Corp. publishing unit after its planned split from the conglomerate's entertainment assets, took over News International last summer amid the phone hacking scandal.

One source said Mockridge's memo was meant to address the Sun staffers unaffected by any allegations who have said they are working under difficult conditions.

The Sun's associate editor, in a February op-ed said there was "a feeling of being under siege" at the tabloid. "The witch-hunt has put us behind ex-Soviet states on free press."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai
 

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