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LONDON — The investigative journalism website Exaro has agreed to hand over to the British police a recording of News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch in which he appears to admit to The Sun journalists that he was aware of the practice of making payments to public officials.
The website originally published a transcript of the recording last Wednesday on its website.
Detectives from Scotland Yard’s Operation Elveden — one of three investigations opened in the wake of the phone hacking scandal — are looking into whether Murdoch had knowledge of any illegal payments by journalists, according to ExaroNews.
Scotland Yard originally asked Exaro to hand over what it described as the “Rupert Murdoch tape” last Friday.
The request was turned down with Exaro stating it had only kept two small audio clips of the meeting after it had transcribed the full recording. It said that all the evidence it had was available on its website.
Earlier this week, Exaro editor Mark Watts said that the police would not be able to access anything “other than what we have put up [on the website].”
He also tweeted that “unlike News International, we will not — under any circumstances — betray any confidential source.”
But come Tuesday, Exaro said it was arranging to supply the evidence to Operation Elveden.
On the tape, recorded during a meeting with roughly 25 Sun executives and journalists who had been arrested over allegations of illegal news-gathering practices including paying officials for information, Murdoch indicates that the bribing of public officials was widespread across national newspapers in the U.K.
At one point, according to the transcript published by ExaroNews, Murdoch says, “We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops. That’s been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn’t instigate it.”
Later, Murdoch hints that he was aware of bribery at the tabloid News of the World, which closed two years ago in the wake of a phone-hacking scandal, adding that it was “the culture of Fleet Street.”
News Corp denied that Murdoch was aware of any bribery last week following the story.
“Mr. Murdoch never knew of payments made by Sun staff to police before News Corporation disclosed that to U.K. authorities. Furthermore, he never said he knew of payments. It’s absolutely false to suggest otherwise,” the statement read.
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