The police said on Thursday they had arrested three people at addresses in Kent and Lancashire in their investigation into allegations of payments by journalists to police and public officials.

Sky News, which is partly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, said Duncan Larcombe, royal editor on Murdoch's Sun newspaper, was one of those arrested.

The police said a 36-year old man had been arrested in Kent on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt.

A 42-year old former member of the armed forces was also arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, they said, and a woman aged 38 had been arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office.

A spokeswoman for News International, News Corp's UK newspaper arm which has been rocked by a phone hacking scandal, confirmed that one of those arrested was a Sun journalist but she declined to give further details.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Estelle Shirbon)