Wearing a pair of white Y-fronts, Saddam Hussein was splashed across The Sun and the New York Post in 2005, a global scoop by Rupert Murdoch’s voracious news empire.
At the time the US President, George W Bush, announced an inquiry into how the papers had acquired the image of the “Beast of Baghdad” while he was in the custody of US troops in Iraq.
Now the picture is again a matter of controversy, following a claim that Mr Murdoch’s holding company, News Corporation, obtained it by bribing a member of the US military. The American news website The Daily Beast asked: “Did News Corp illegally purchase Saddam Hussein picture from US officials?” It reported: “Sources close to the story have told The Daily Beast that the payment was significantly greater [than £500] and was made to a US official on American soil.”
So far, 54 people in the UK – including 11 senior journalists on The Sun – have been arrested by a Metropolitan Police investigation into alleged payments to police and other public officials.
Detectives on that inquiry, Operation Elveden, are not thought to be investigating the Saddam Hussein picture.
The US Department of Justice, the FBI, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission are already investigating whether the firm broke the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing police and public officials in the UK.
News Corp last night declined to say whether it had used bribery to acquire the photograph of the former Iraqi President, which appeared simultaneously on the front pages of The Sun (“The Tyrant’s in His Pants”) and New York Post (“Butcher of Sagdad”) on 20 May 2005.
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