LONDON — British authorities arrested eight people on Saturday, including five employees of Rupert Murdock's tabloid The Sun, as part of an investigation into bribery of public officials by journalists, according to Scotland Yard and the newspaper’s parent company.
The five Sun employees, who were not identified by name, are between the ages of 45 and 68. A person with knowledge of the investigation, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing operation, confirmed reports that the arrested Sun employees were a deputy editor, Geoff Webster; the chief reporter, John Kay; the chief foreign correspondent, Nick Parker; a picture editor, John Edwards; and a reporter, John Sturgis.
The Sun is Mr. Murdoch’s British flagship and the best-selling daily newspaper here, with a circulation of just over 2.7 million copies daily, according to figures from late last year. It had previously been on the fringes of a scandal that led to the closing of its sister tabloid, News of the World, last summer over accusations of illegal news-gathering techniques like intercepting voice-mail messages, hacking computers and bribing public officials.
Mr. Murdoch’s company, News Corporation, had sought to shield The Sun, seen by many industry analysts as his crown jewel and cash cow here, from the scandal. In the face of occasional mentions in lawsuits last year, the company fiercely disputed any suggestion that the newspaper was embroiled in widespread illegality.
Now The Sun has been implicated in wrongdoing, and it is the News Corporation that has been pointing the finger.
The arrests on Saturday bring to nine the number of current and former Sun employees arrested in the case. Late last month, four other current and former employees of The Sun, as well as a police officer, were arrested on suspicion of corruption.
A team put in place by News Corporation to investigate wrongdoing at the company, the Management and Standards Committee, provided the information that led to both sets of arrests, the company said in a statement.
The Sun’s editor, Dominic Mohan, said that he was “as shocked as anyone by today’s arrests,” but that the paper would come out as usual on Monday. Rumors swirled that Mr. Murdoch would fly to London, as he did when News of the World was closed. A spokeswoman declined to comment on his plans.
In addition to the journalists, a police officer, a Defense Ministry official and a member of the British armed forces were arrested Saturday, the police said. They were also charged with corruption, as well as “misconduct in a public office.”
The bribery investigation, one of three police investigations initiated in the wake of the News of the World scandal, has now widened to include “public officials who are not police officers," detectives said in their statement.
A former official with News International, the British newspaper arm of News Corporation, who has knowledge of the investigation, said that given the overwhelming quantity of evidence, the police have relied heavily on guidance from News Corporation. Those arrested have been presented with receipts, expenses reports, messages and other internal documents during questioning, the official said.
In recent weeks, Mr. Murdoch’s British newspaper subsidiary, News International, has settled dozens of lawsuits involving allegations of phone hacking, part of an effort to draw a line under the scandal.
Among former employees of News of the World, said one, there is cynicism about the motivations of their former employer. Some feel, the person said, that the management “is protecting itself and serving up journalists.”