‘Threatening the foundations of a free press’: Discontent grows at the Sun

By Ian Dunt

Discontent is growing at the Sun newspaper today, following the arrest of journalists and editors.

Staff are furiously claiming the police are treating instances of buying drinks for contacts as bribery, while former political editor Trevor Kavanagh has written a savage indictment of police tactics.

"Journalists are being treated like members of an organised crime gang," he wrote in the newspaper.

"Instead of being called in for questioning, 30 journalists have been needlessly dragged from their beds in dawn raids, arrested and held in police cells while their homes are ransacked.

"Wives and children have been humiliated as up to 20 officers at a time rip up floorboards and sift through intimate possessions, love letters and entirely private documents."

He continued: "Stories sometimes involve whistleblowers. Sometimes money changes hands. This has been standard procedure as long as newspapers have existed, here and abroad.

"A huge operation driven by politicians threatens the very foundations of a free press."

Staff are increasingly convinced that parent company News Corp is handing the police information in a frantic bid to limit the damage from the scandal affecting its American operations.

"It is important our parent company, News Corp, protects its reputation in the United States and the interests of its shareholders," Mr Kavanagh wrote.

"But some of the greatest legends in Fleet Street have been held, at least on the basis of evidence so far revealed, for simply doing their jobs as journalists on behalf of the company."

Rumours from the US suggest Rupert Murdoch may face investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which can fine companies on the basis of illegal activity – particularly bribery – overseas.

Shareholders are also growing increasingly rebellious as the British newspaper wing of Mr Murdoch's business empire threatens to make the entire brand toxic, despite being a minor part of the company financially.

The octogenarian flies into London later this week to face staff in Wapping.