The Sun's journalists are being treated “like members of an organised crime gang”, according to the paper's associate editor.
Writes Trevor Kavanagh in today's edition of the paper – including its Scottish edition, with Scottish political editor, Andrew Nicoll, being away: “Don't believe everything you hear from our critics. The Sun is not a 'swamp' that needs 'draining'.
“Nor are those other great News International titles, The Times and The Sunday Times.
“Yet in what would at any other time cause uproar in Parliament and among civil liberty and human rights campaigners, its journalists are being treated like members of an organised crime gang.
“They are subjects of the biggest police operation in British criminal history – bigger even than the Pan Am Lockerbie murder probe.
“Major crime investigations are on hold as 171 police are drafted in to run three separate operations.”
His remarks follow the arrest of five journalists on Saturday, on suspicion of making illegal payments to police officers and other officials.
Meanwhile, today's Guardian also raises fears of a witch-hunt against tabloid journalists. In a leader comment, it says – midway: “On the morning of Saturday's police raids, the Daily Mail published the latest fruits of its long investigation into the connections between the billionaire financier Nat Rothschild, the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and Lord Mandelson, having won a libel action in which Associated Newspapers had to risk enormous costs. That was gutsy tabloid journalism, and a gritty defence of it. The Sun, at its best, also makes a vigorous and essential contribution to reporting and debate – see its recent campaign for frontline troops to be properly equipped. Nothing the courts, police or inquiries are doing should interfere an iota with this tradition. On the contrary, any future form of regulation should find a way of encouraging such reporting and of reducing the financial risks to publishers who believe in it.”