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News of the World Asked Reporter to Pay Bribe 30 Years Ago

An editor at News of the World, the News Corp. tabloid shut after reporters were caught hacking into sources’ voice mails, asked a reporter to bribe a police officer for stories 30 years ago.

The reporter Jeff Edwards, now the president of the crime reporters association, refused to offer the police money for stories and was moved off the crime beat, he said today at a judicial inquiry into media ethics in London.

News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers are under scrutiny for reporters who may have broken the law for stories. The inquisition was commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron in July in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World. More than 10 reporters at News Corp.’s Sun tabloid have been arrested in connection with a bribery investigation and more than 20 have been arrested as part of a probe into phone hacking.

“I thought it was indicative of the culture of that particular organization at that point in time,” Edwards told the inquiry, led by Judge Brian Leveson, today. “There was an element in there that had a tendency toward questionable, unethical behavior that manifested itself in a variety of ways.”

A News International spokeswoman declined to comment.

Edwards said he left the company in 1985 and wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing that may have happened later. He said he never saw any evidence of other reporters making improper payments to police.

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of the U.K. publishing unit, was arrested for a second time in connection with the hacking investigation yesterday on suspicion that she had attempted to pervert the course of justice, a person familiar with the situation said.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with News Corp. units in providing financial news and information.

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