Brooks arrested over News of the World phone hacking scandal

By By Wenlei Ma | 18 July 2011

Former News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, has been arrested over the News of the World phone hacking scandal, following her resignation three days ago.

According to news reports from the UK, Brooks was arrested by Scotland Yard on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and corruption. The corruption charges relate to alleged bribery of police officials. She is the 10th person arrested as a result of the phone hacking investigation.

A statement issued on her behalf said Brooks was "voluntarily assisting" police with their inquiries. Brooks has been released on bail, and is scheduled to front police again in October.

Brooks, who was editor of News of the World at the time of fresh allegations of phone hacking stepped down from her post as News International chief executive last week following two weeks of intense public pressure.

The newspaper is accused of hacking into the voice mails of a number of high ranking government officials, including former British Prime Minster Gordon Brown, families of London bombing victims and murdered school girl Milly Dowler.

London police chief Paul Stephenson also resigned over the weekend as a result of the fallout. Stephenson denies any wrong-doing on his part but has been criticised for hiring former News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis for PR consulting work. Wallis is one of the ten arrested over the scandal.

Another high-profile resignation over the weekend is former News International chief executive and publisher of the Wall Street Journal Les Hinton. Hinton, whose career at News Corp spans five decades, was at the helm of News International when the alleged phone hacking occurred.

News of the World has ceased publishing in the wake of the scandal, with the last issue printed over a week ago.

Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch are due to face a UK parliamentary inquiry this week over what they knew about the phone hacking allegations.

The scandal has had wide implications for Murdoch's News Corp media empire, including the withdrawal of his bid for UK pay-TV operator BSkyB. British politicians are facing questions over their alleged close ties to Murdoch's papers over the years, including Prime Minister David Cameron who previously hired the now-arrested former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications director. Coulson resigned from the Prime Minister's office in January.

Fallout for Murdoch has not been limited to his UK operations. In Australia, News Limited chief executive John Hartigan has had to defend local operations, reiterating that phone hacking practices does not extend to Australia. Hartigan said payments over the last three years will be investigated to confirm they were for legitimate purposes.

However, Federal Greens leader Bob Brown has called for a parliamentary inquiry into media ethics and practices in Australia.

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