Eight People Held Over Payments Inquiry

Five Sun employees are among eight people arrested over alleged corrupt payments to police and public servants.

A woman speaks on her mobile phone outside the News International HQ building, in east London

Five Sun employees are among eight people arrested over alleged corrupt payments to police and public servants.

A Surrey Police officer, a member of the armed forces and a Ministry of Defence employee were also arrested.

The BBC understands picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker, reporter John Sturgis and associate editor Geoff Webster were arrested.

The arrests are part of the Operation Elveden probe into payments to police.

BBC News correspondent Joe Lynam said the significance of the latest arrests was that the investigation was not just looking into police and journalists but was now broadening this out to public officials.

Our correspondent said Sun employees he had spoken to were concerned there was something of a "witch-hunt".

News Corporation confirmed five employees of the Sun were arrested.

Five men aged between 45 and 68 were arrested in London, Kent and Essex on suspicion of corruption, aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office, and conspiracy in relation to both offences.

A 39-year-old serving Surrey Police officer, a 39-year-old Ministry of Defence employee and a 36-year-old member of the armed forces were also arrested at their homes on suspicion of corruption, misconduct in a public office and conspiracy in relation to both.

Those arrested are being questioned at police stations in London, Kent, Essex and Wiltshire, police said.

The homes of those arrested were being searched and officers were also carrying out searches at the offices of News International in Wapping, east London.

News Corp said its Management and Standards Committee (MSC) had provided information to the Elveden inquiry which led to the arrests.

The company said in a statement: "News Corporation remains committed to ensuring that unacceptable news-gathering practices by individuals in the past will not be repeated and last summer authorised the MSC to co-operate with the relevant authorities.

"The MSC will continue to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to protect legitimate journalistic privilege and sources, private or personal information and legal privilege.

"News Corporation maintains its total support to the ongoing work of the MSC and is committed to making certain that legitimate journalism is vigorously pursued in both the public interest and in full compliance with the law."

'Robust' response

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "We do not comment on ongoing investigations."

A Surrey Police spokesman said on learning about the involvement of one of its officers it had immediately referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Assistant Chief Constable Jerry Kirkby said: "The force takes matters of this nature extremely seriously and we will not hesitate to respond robustly to allegations where there is evidence to support them."

Deborah Glass, IPCC deputy chairman, said: "Today's arrests are further evidence of the strenuous efforts being undertaken to identify police officers who may have taken corrupt payments."

The Surrey Police officer arrest is not connected to the Milly Dowler investigation.

Last week the Independent Police Complaints Commission cleared another Surrey police officer of leaking information to the press about the Dowler investigation.

News Corporation is the parent company of News International which owns The Sun and The Times.

Last month, four former and current Sun journalists and a police officer were arrested as part of the inquiry and released on bail.

Operation Elveden is being overseen by the IPCC, running alongside the Metropolitan Police's Operation Weeting inquiry into phone hacking at the now-closed News of the World.

More than 20 arrests have so far been made as part of Operation Elveden.