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Journalism inquiry snares British officials

Feb. 27, 2012 at 4:18 PM

LONDON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The London tabloid The Sun paid police officers, and military and government officials handsomely for information, the leading police investigator said Monday.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, speaking before a judicial investigation into press ethics and known as the Leveson Inquiry, said e-mail records obtained by the police showed "a culture at The Sun of illegal payments" in the hundred of thousands of dollars, and that "frequent and sometimes significant sums of money" were paid to officials in the Health Ministry, the prison system and elsewhere.

She described it as "a network of corrupted officials."

It was clear from the e-mails' references to staff members' "risking losing their pension or job" that the journalists in question were aware the payments were illegal, she said.

At the inquiry, she gave examples of one unnamed public official receiving more than $125,000 over several years, and one journalist who was allocated $238,000 in cash to pay sources, including government officials, The New York Times reported Monday.

A statement from Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns many major newspapers, including The Sun, did not deny the payments were made, but said, in part, that "the practices Sue Akers describes at the Leveson Inquiry are ones of the past, and no longer exist at The Sun."

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