The new Sunday edition of Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper sold 3.26 million copies when it debuted in the UK yesterday, according to the News Corp chief’s Twitter feed. Yet the most interesting new development involving the tabloid is a charge today that came from Sue Akers, the deputy police commissioner overseeing investigations into alleged illegal practices by journalists. Akers told the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics that there “appears to have been a culture at The Sun of illegal payments” to police officers as well as members of the military, the government and other public organizations. (The Sun is controlled by the News Corp-owned News International.) According to The Guardian, Akers suggested there was a “network of corrupted officials” that journalists at The Sun could call upon and that one official received more than $126,500 (£80,000) over several years. Following Akers’ testimony, Murdoch gave the following statement: “She said the evidence suggested such payments were authorised by senior staff at The Sun. As I’ve made very clear, we have vowed to do everything we can to get to the bottom of prior wrongdoings in order to set us on the right path for the future. That process is well under way. The practices Sue Akers described at the Leveson inquiry are ones of the past, and no longer exist at The Sun. We have already emerged a stronger company.”
In related news, a News International email read at the inquiry suggests that Scotland Yard warned officials at Murdoch-owned papers as far back as 2006 that phone hacking had taken place at the News Of The World — but was limited to one reporter, royals editor Clive Goodman. The information came in an email seen by Andy Coulson, who at the time edited the tabloid, and Rebbekah Brooks, who then ran The Sun. Separately, it was disclosed that singer Charlotte Church will receive $950,000 (£600,000) from News International following last week’s settlement of her phone-hacking suit against the company. It was disclosed that private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who worked for NOTW, had the U.S. phone numbers of her agent and publicist among his notes. The presence of those numbers could make it harder to contain further lawsuits to Britain.