Two British journalists held in corruption probe

LONDON Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:02am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Two British tabloid journalists were arrested on Wednesday in a probe into illegal payments to public officials, the first confirmed cases of such alleged corruption at titles unconnected to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Media group Trinity Mirror said it was cooperating with police after officers detained Justin Penrose from its Sunday Mirror newspaper, while Sky News named the other journalist as Tom Savage from the Daily Star Sunday.

The two were arrested at their homes in southern England as part of an inquiry into inappropriate payments to police which were uncovered by a wider probe into phone-hacking that forced Murdoch to close his News of the World tabloid last year.

No one at the Northern & Shell group which owns the Daily Star was immediately available to comment.

Trinity Mirror has previously said it carried out a review of its editorial controls and procedures and had obtained written confirmation from its senior editorial executives that they had not engaged in phone-hacking or bribery.

However a former Mirror journalist, Greig Box-Turnbull, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of bribery and causing misconduct in a public office. A spokesman for his new employer, Westminster Council, confirmed the arrest to Reuters but declined to comment any further.

A police statement said on Wednesday: "A 37-year-old man was arrested at his home in Kent and a 34-year-old man at his home in south-east London at approximately 6.00 hours this morning, on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and of conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office.

"The two, both journalists, are being questioned at police stations in Kent and south-east London."

About 40 people have now been arrested in the inquiry into paying officials for tip-offs.

(Reporting by Stephen Addison and Kate Holton; Editing by Pravin Char)

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