The head of the police investigations into illegal behaviour by journalists said that payments were made not just to police but also to military, government, and health officials. She said that journalists maintained contact with a “network of corrupt officials” throughout many areas of public service.
“The cases we are investigating are not ones involving the odd drink, or meal, to police officers or other public officials,” she said. “Instead, these are cases in which arrests have been made involving the delivery of regular, frequent and sometimes significant sums of money to small numbers of public officials by journalists.”
Akers said that one journalist at The Sun received more than £150,000 in cash to pay sources, some of whom were in the public service.
The Metropolitan Police are currently analysing over 300m emails which were handed to Operation Elvedon by News International. The Deputy Commissioner stressed that News International’s Management and Standards Committee, the internal body established by News Corporation to take responsibility for all matters relating to phone hacking at the News of the World and payments to the police, had been “very helpful” in assisting with investigations.
The emails given to Operation Elvedon have already led to the arrest of 10 Sun journalists, as well as two police officers and a number of other public officials.
“The emails indicate that payments to ‘sources’ were openly referred to within the Sun … There is a recognition by the journalists that this behaviour is illegal, reference being made to staff ‘risking losing their pension or job’, to the need for ‘care’ and to the need for ‘cash payments’. There is also an indication of ‘tradecraft’, ie hiding cash payments to ‘sources’ by making them to a friend or relative of the source.”
The Deputy Assistant Commissioner said that although the work of Operation Elvedon was still in its early stages, evidence suggested that such payments were authorised by senior staff at the Sun.