British phone-hacking probe deepens with ex-editor's arrest
Mar 13, 2012, 15:34 GMT
London - Rebekah Brooks, once Britain's most powerful female newspaper editor, was among six people arrested on Tuesday in a new twist in the phone-hacking scandal at News International, the newspaper group of media magnate Rupert Murdoch.
Scotland Yard said 43-year-old Brooks, who resigned last year as chief executive of News International, was arrested in an early morning raid at her home together with her husband, Charlie Brooks, a racehorse trainer and newspaper columnist.
Four men were also held on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, Scotland Yard said, taking to 22 the total number of arrests since the probe into the illegal interception of mobile phone messages began in January, 2011.
Scotland Yard is investigating the practice of phone-hacking at News International over the past 10 years. The News of the World, sister paper to Britain's Sun popular daily, was closed down over the scandal last year.
The arrest of Brooks, who was at the helm at the Sun during the period in question, is potentially embarrassing to Prime Minister David Cameron, known to be a close friend of Brooks and her husband, with whom he went to school at the elite Eton college.
Last month, in a scandal quickly dubbed 'horsegate,' Cameron admitted that he once rode a horse, named Raisa, from Brooks' stables in the county of Oxfordshire, where both the Camerons and the Brooks have country homes.
The episode, which goes back to 2008 - two years before Cameron became prime minister - gained extra flavour through the fact that Rebekah Brooks was lent the horse by Scotland Yard under a care scheme for retired police horses.
In the course of their present investigations, the police are not only probing the hacking allegations, but also the close links that existed between the police and the newspapers of News International, which also include the Times and the Sunday Times.
Last month, the police officer in charge of the investigations, Sue Akers, told a judicial inquiry that a 'culture of illegal payments' existed at News International, with money being paid in exchange for information to 'officials in all areas of public life.'
Investigators said up to 6,000 public figures and celebrities, as well as soldiers and victims of terrorism and crime, had their mobile phone messages intercepted by News International reporters.
After initially appearing to affect just the News of the World, the scandal has now spread to the Sun.
Murdoch, 80, who has vowed to 'clear out the stables' at News International, has handed over more than 3 million emails to investigators. The recent arrests are believed to be based on these.
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