News Corp. said Saturday that it provided the information to the police that resulted in the arrest of five of its journalists earlier in the day.
In a statement the company said: "The Management and Standards Committee (MSC) provided the information to the Elveden investigation which led to today’s arrests."
The media conglomerate also confirmed that the police have searched not only the homes of the arrested, but their offices at News Corp. headquarters.
"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 company said in its statement.
The statement came after the news Saturday morning that the British police arrested five journalists from the Sun tabloid, the most popular newspaper in the UK, on suspicion of making payoffs to police and public officials. Police officials were arrested as well.
The News Corp. statement suggested to some that the conglomerate was distancing itself from its own journalists, drawing the fire of the leader of a journalist union in the United Kingdom.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet told The Guardian that News International staff were furious at "a monumental betrayal on the part of News International," the News Corp. division in charge of The Sun.
She added: "Once again Rupert Murdoch is trying to pin the blame on individual journalists hoping that a few scalps will salvage his corporate reputation."
The high-profile arrests follow an earlier round two weeks ago, bringing the total number of Sun journalists arrested to nine.
Before the scandal erupted last July, News Corp. had insisted that the malfeasance that started with a phone hacking scandal at The News of the World was limited to that publication, which was shut down.
CEO Rupert Murdoch and COO Chase Carey have continually had to defend the company from accusations of corruption, speaking on the subject at events and on earnings calls.
In its earnings report this past week, the company said ongoing investigations into hacking had cost it $87 million in the second quarter of the fiscal year alone. That figure did not include lost revenue from the closure of the News of the World either.
It will cease to predict the financial toll in its quarterly forecasts, due in part to the unpredictability of events such as Saturday's arrests.
And will the News of the World be the only publication to close? Some on Twitter have already speculated that the media conglomerate will have to look into further action.
"The sale of UK papers, exit of toxic execs removes fit and proper and competition concerns and allows #NewsCorp to buy SKY, the big prize," Clive Hollick, a member of the House of Lords, tweeted. Hollick was making reference to British Sky Broadcasting, a satellite company News Corp. owns 39 percent of and has tried to buy in its entirety. Its efforts ceased as the hacking scandal deepened and scrutiny of the takeover intensified.
Michael Wolff, a Murdoch biographer, tweeted multiple times on the subject:
"The precedent of NoW closing really puts surreal sort of pressure on Murdoch and Sun — we expect badly behaved papers to close."
But Tom Mockridge, the chief of News International, said in an internal memo that Murdoch has assured him the Sun will not close.
Here is the full statement:
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers from Operation Elveden today arrested five employees of The Sun newspaper.
Searches have taken place at the homes and offices of those arrested.
The Management and Standards Committee (MSC) provided the information to the Elveden investigation which led to today’s arrests.
The MSC have provided the option of immediate legal representation to those arrested.
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 on-going 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.