In its glory days, Rupert Murdoch’s London Sun was the cheeky larrikin of the tabloid newspaper world. Headlines such as “FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER” and “DO YOU REALLY WANT THIS OLD FOOL TO RUN BRITAIN?” established The Sun as the model of irreverent journalism — often snide, sometimes nasty, but never boring.

Today The Sun is a model of something quite different. Over the past year, 17 current or former Sun journalists have been arrested by British police, charged with alleged illegal payments to public officials and criminal breaches of privacy.

Yesterday, Tom Mockridge, chief executive of the Suns owner News International, complained bitterly that his journalists weren’t being treated in a dignified manner when they were arrested by London police:

“I’m sorry to have to tell you there has been another arrest of a Sun journalist in connection with Operation Elveden. The arrest took place earlier this morning. We have given our colleague from The Sun the same legal and practical support that we have offered others.

“We are of course all concerned that these arrests continue to take place. I am also disappointed that representations made on behalf of the MSC [News Corporation’s management and standards committee] about how arrests take place have not been taken up.

“We fully accept that the [Met] is within its rights to carry out its duties. However, we had hoped that the high degree of co-operation provided by the company would be reflected in how they conduct their activities.”

We agree. Reporters charged with bribing police, prison officers, government officials and invading privacy should definitely be treated with the dignity those offences deserve.