Fresh arrests in British tabloid hacking scandal



LONDON- Police investigating Britain's phone hacking scandal arrested Tuesday the chief reporter and a former news editor of the country's top-selling newspaper.
London's Metropolitan Police said they had arrested two men on suspicion of unlawfully intercepting mobile phone voicemail messages.



They are the first arrests since detectives reopened their probe into allegations that staff at News of the World, a Sunday tabloid, hacked into the answerphone messages of royals, celebrities and politicians.
Chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, 50, and 42-year-old Ian Edmondson, the former assistant editor (news), were bailed to return in September.
They were arrested after attending separate London police stations by appointment.
They were held "on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications... and unlawful interception of voicemail messages," a police spokeswoman said.
News International, which publishes News of the World, said it was co-operating fully with the investigation.
"In January, News International voluntarily approached the Met Police and provided information that led to the opening of the current police investigation," the company said.
"News International terminated the employment of the assistant editor (news) of the News of the World at the same time.
"News International has consistently reiterated that it will not tolerate wrongdoing and is committed to acting on evidence."
The tabloid's royal correspondent Clive Goodman was jailed in 2007 for conspiracy to access mobile phone messages involving Princes William and Harry.
The Met reopened their investigation after it was handed the fresh information, something which led to the resignation of Andy Coulson as Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief.
Coulson, News of the World's editor from 2003 to 2007, announced his resignation after Goodman was jailed, but insisted he knew nothing about the hacking.
Cameron hired him as his communications chief a few months later.
However, once the investigation was reopened, Coulson quit Cameron's team, saying the row was proving too distracting. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.
The Met said last month they would contact potential new phone-hack victims, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott, after the new evidence emerged.
Reports said police would write to nearly 3,000 people telling them that their names were found on documents they seized.
Celebrities including actress Sienna Miller are taking civil action against the paper.
The Met has endured repeated criticism over its handling of the inquiry from celebrities suspecting they may have had their messages hacked.
Reports have suggested former prime minister Gordon Brown, ex-England footballer Paul Gascoigne, actor Jude Law and comedian Steve Coogan could be among those affected.
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Wednesday, April 6th 2011
AFP
           


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