Sun Staffers Contemplating Legal Challenge Against News Corp.; Stories Of Huge Payments To Public Officials Surface

Journalists at News Corp.'s Sun newspaper are so infuriated by the company's willingness to hand over the paper's reporters and sources to the police that they are reportedly preparing to launch a human rights challenge against Rupert Murdoch's media empire. Meanwhile, the extent of the alleged payoffs taking place at the Sun became more apparent on Wednesday.

Nine journalists at the Sun have been arrested in the course of Scotland Yard's investigation into corrupt payments to public officials. News International has said that the arrests came as the result of the company "proactively" providing information to the police.

A source described some of the payments as representing "serious suspected criminality over a sustained period." The source told Reuters that some public officials were effectively on a retainer of tens of thousands of pounds per year.

Tuesday's revelation that News Corp. disclosed the identity of confidential sources to the police outraged its journalists, who are said to feel betrayed by upper management. Now, the Guardian reports that senior journalists at the Sun are looking into a legal challenge against the company.

They have reportedly approached the National Union of Journalists about hiring human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC to probe the legality of the company's actions. Robertson invoked the European Union's Human Rights Act in an editorial urging journalists to protect their sources on Wednesday. A part of the law stipulates "protection for elements of a free press, including protection of journalistic sources."

This latest development is the newest battle that the Sun's journalists have waged in the ongoing civil war within Murdoch's media empire. Things were kicked off when senior editor Trevor Kavanagh condemned the police and indirectly, the Murdochs, in an explosive editorial that called the investigation a "witch-hunt." Others have alleged that Murdoch is throwing journalists under the bus to save his empire.

Phone Hacking/Bribery Scandal Timeline

Phone Hacking/Bribery Scandal Timeline

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