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Top British cop describes "culture" of bribery at Rupert Murdoch's The Sun

Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid The Sun had a "culture" of making illegal payments to corrupt public officials in return for stories, a senior police officer told an inquiry Monday.

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Singer Charlotte Church leaves the Royal Courts of Justice after reading a statement to the gathered press on February 27, 2012 in London, England. (Dan Kitwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid The Sun had a "culture" of making illegal payments to corrupt public officials in return for stories, a senior police officer told an inquiry Monday.

The evidence by Sue Akers, a Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner, to Britain's media ethics inquiry came as Murdoch announced that the paper's new Sunday edition had sold more than 3 million copies, The Associated Press reported.

(GlobalPost reports: Rupert Murdoch oversees print run of The Sun's first Sunday edition

Akers, who is leading Scotland Yard's bribery investigation, revealed what The Guardian described as "startling details" of a "culture of illegal payments" at best-selling tabloid.

She said that one public official received more than 80,000 pounds (more than $126,000) in total from the paper, while regular "retainers" were apparently being paid to police and others.

The payments were authorized at a senior level, the Associated Press cited Akers as telling the Leveson inquiry, and went far beyond acceptable practices such as buying sources a meal or a drink.

Akers' investigation has so far resulted in 10 current or former Sun journalists being arrested, along with a serving police officer, a Ministry of Defense worker and an army officer, according to Agence France-Presse.

In a statement reported by AFP, Murdoch conceded that such payments had been made but said: "The practices Sue Akers described at the Leveson inquiry are ones of the past, and no longer exist at The Sun."

On Monday, Murdoch's company also paid former teen pop star Charlotte Church $951,000 for violating her privacy by authorizing the hacking of her phone.

News Limited has settled dozens of claims brought by victims of phone hacking by the News of the World, The Sun's sister paper shut down over the phone-hacking scandal last year.

Murdoch, who pledged his support for the new Sunday version of The Sun at the weekend, said: "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 underway."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120227/rupert-murdoch-bribery-sun-phone-hacking-charlotte-church