By Lisa O'Carroll, The Guardian

Brian Flynn, the investigations editor, says paper is turning away stories from whistleblowers following Operation Elveden arrests

A senior editor on the Sun has warned that journalists on the paper are now unwilling to launch certain public interest investigations because of a fear of being arrested.

Brian Flynn, the paper's investigations editor, said the effect of the arrest of 21 journalists on the paper over alleged payments or knowledge of payments to police or other public officials has already had a chilling effect.

"It sometimes feels like I am working in a butcher's deep freeze, rather than a newsroom," he told the Society of Editors in Belfast on Tuesday,according to Press Gazette.

Flynn said the paper turns its back on stories from whistleblowers who want payment, even if they are exposing something in the public interest.

"Every day, the Sun turns away stories that are in the public interest because of the 2010 Bribery Act. With no public-interest defence, we cannot talk to whistleblowers who want compensation for the risk they are taking," he added.

In the past year, 21 current and former Sun journalists and senior newsroom executives have been arrested as a result of police investigations into alleged inappropriate payments for stories.

Addressing the final session of the Society of Editors conference in Belfast on Tuesday, Flynn said that the Leveson inquiry had already had a significant effect on freedom of speech in the UK.

"So many decent journalists have been arrested under a 1906 act [The Prevention of Corruption Act] that was never applied to journalists before. It was so obscure that none of us had even read about it in our bible, McNae's Law for Journalists," he added.

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