News Corporation moves to smooth internal concerns after Sun arrests

News International has focused much of its comms resources on reassuring employees that there are no plans to axe The Sun, following more journalist arrests.

Rupert Murdoch: quick to speak to staff
Rupert Murdoch: quick to speak to staff

A further five journalists from The Sun were arrested on Saturday as part of Operation Weeting, which is investigating allegations of bribery, phone and computer hacking.

Since the revelation, News International and its parent firm News Corporation have been focused on internal comms, with chief executive Tom Mockridge acting quickly to brief staff internally and state that he had had a 'personal assurance' from Rupert Murdoch over the weekend that he planned to continue to own and publish The Sun.

The internal statement which was sent to PRWeek states: ‘I understand the pressure many of you are under and have the greatest admiration for everyone’s continued professionalism.

‘The Sun has a proud history of delivering ground-breaking journalism. You should know that I have had a personal assurance today (11 February) from Rupert Murdoch about his total commitment to continue to own and publish The Sun newspaper.’

It is thought that Murdoch will also visit staff later this week to sooth any concerns of a possible closure of The Sun like its sister newspaper the News of the World in July last year.

The five journalists arrested on Saturday were Geoff Webster, deputy editor of The Sun; picture editor John Edwards; chief reporter John Kay; reporter John Sturgis and chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker.

News Corporation spokeswoman Miranda Higham declined to comment further beyond the statements. 

The statement revealed that the company’s Management and Standards Committee, set up in July to investigate phone hacking and police payments at News of the World, provided the information to the Metropolitan Police which led to the arrests.

It said: ‘News Corporation remains committed to ensuring that unacceptable news gathering practices by individuals in the past will not be repeated.’

The MSC has been working with its PR agency Powerscourt over the weekend to issue statements. The internal PR teams of both the News Corporation and News International are handling their external and internal comms.

Edelman offered support to News International over the weekend and focused on media monitoring. In particular the News International comms team were quick to squash rumours on Twitter that Dominic Mohan, editor of The Sun, was about to resign.

A Metropolitan Police statement said that the men were arrested due to suspected corruption involving public officials who are not police officers.

Police have made at least 17 arrests through operations Elveden, Weeting and Tuleta looking at phone hacking, bribery and computer hacking, all set up about a year ago.

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