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More arrests in British phone-hacking scandal

January 17, 2013|By Janet Stobart

LONDON — Two police officers and a journalist were arrested in Britain on Thursday on suspicion of corruption in the ongoing police inquiry into phone hacking by News Corp. tabloids and related scandals. 

A London Metropolitan police statement said the arrests were part of Operation Elveden, an investigation into inappropriate payments to police and public officials.

Although unidentified by police, BBC reports named the journalist as Anthony France, a 39-year-old crime reporter for the Sun newspaper. The tabloid is part of the News International group, the British branch of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Several Sun journalists have already been arrested under the three-part investigation.

The two unidentified police officers were a 56-year-old “serving police officer in the Metropolitan Police Specialist Crime and Operations command,” the statement said, and “a 30-year-old ... serving police officer in the MPS Specialist Crime and Operations command.” Both are suspected of misconduct in a public office and corruption.

The latter officer is a member of the police branch dealing with serious and organized crime as well as protection and security of public figures, from the British royal family to government officials, as well as major government and public areas including Parliament and airports.

Scotland Yard said searches were being carried out, and according to BBC reports the Sun offices were among the places being searched.

The BBC reported the arrests were the result of information from the News Corp. management and standards committee set up to collaborate with police in inquiries related to the phone-hacking scandal.

The latest moves bring the number of Operation Elveden arrests to 56. The total of police, public officials and journalists now under arrest from this and the other two  inquiries — Operation Weeting investigating phone hacking and Operation Tuleta looking at computer hacking — is now about a hundred. 

Among those arrested are Andy Coulson, former senior communications advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, and Rebekah Brooks, a former News International editor and executive.

Thursday’s arrests follow the conviction last week of Det. Chief Inspector April Casburn, a 53-year-old senior police officer found guilty of phoning the News of the World, the now defunct News International tabloid, in 2010 about an earlier police phone-hacking inquiry and requesting money for information.

The phone-hacking scandal that prompted the ongoing inquiries and subsequent arrests broke in July 2011 with public outrage over revelations that the News of the World, then edited by Brooks, in 2002 had hacked into the voicemail of missing teenager Milly Dowler, who was later found dead. The paper was closed and hundreds of other phone-hacking victims have since come forward to claim millions of dollars in compensation from News Corp.

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