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February 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A day after News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch lifted the suspensions of ten arrested senior journalists working for his daily tabloid The Sun, he sent an email to the staff of the newspaper warning that he will not “protect people who have paid public officials.” Underlining that resolve, he said, “We will obey the law. Illegal activities simply cannot and will not be tolerated at any of our publications.” Inasmuch as the arrests of the Sun journalists had purportedly stemmed from evidence uncovered by an internal investigation by a News International panel, questions immediately arose as to whether Murdoch had been briefed on that evidence, and, if so, whether he had found it to be insufficient to warrant the continued suspension of the arrested journalists. Labor MP Chris Bryant, himself a victim of phone hacking by reporters for Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World, called the decision to lift the suspensions hypocritical and “massively premature.” He noted that Murdoch’s newspapers had “tirelessly campaigned” to have public officials charged with wrongdoing suspended from office. But human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson told Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Saturday that News Corp has no obligation to turn over incriminating evidence to police and that doing so places reporters’ confidential sources in jeopardy. “[He] is handing over journalists without ever asking them, or their editors, or their executives who must have signed off on the payments, what they were doing and whether they were genuinely pursuing a public interest story. Any significant payment must have been approved by executives, and News Corp does not appear to have turned them over,” Robertson said. Murdoch, who has flown to the U.K. to take charge of the ever-growing scandal and who said in his email to staff that he will remain there “for the next several weeks to give you my unwavering support,” visited the editorial offices of The Sun on Saturday, chatted briefly with a few reporters, but made no formal statement. He was accompanied by his son Lachlan, something that in itself raised the additional question, where was son James, the chairman of News International, the umbrella group for Murdoch’s London newspapers?