UK cops arrest woman phone hacker

2011-11-30 14:19

London - London police investigating the scandal of illegal telephone hacking centred on the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire said they had arrested a woman on Wednesday as part of their inquiry.

Police said the unnamed 31-year-old had been detained on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages. She is now being questioned at a police station in northeast England.

No further details were available.

Detectives launched the investigation in January into whether journalists and private investigators, seeking gossip for stories, illegally intercepted voicemail messages on mobile phones of people ranging from celebrities and politicians to murder victims and the families of dead soldiers.

They are also looking at whether reporters paid police for information.

The probe is focused on the News of the World tabloid which was closed down by News Corp's British arm News International in July after revelations its reporters had hacked the phone of a missing schoolgirl before the girl was found dead.

The woman arrested on Wednesday is the 18th person to be arrested as part of the probe, joining a list of suspects which includes senior News International figures and Prime Minister David Cameron's former media chief, an ex-News of the World editor.

The scandal has embarrassed and damaged Murdoch and his son James, News International's chairman, and engulfed much of the British establishment, including senior police officers and Cameron himself.

It also led to Cameron ordering an inquiry into the British press which began hearings this month, delivering more damaging allegations about the behaviour of newspapers.