New arrest in UK's newspaper phone hacking probe

LONDON Wed Dec 7, 2011 5:20am EST

LONDON Dec 7 (Reuters) - Police announced another arrest on Wednesday in an investigation into illegal telephone hacking, which has forced Rupert Murdoch to shut Britain's most-read weekly newspaper and rocked the country's media and political elite.

Britain's media industry, politicians and police have been hit this year by revelations that journalists and private investigators illegally intercepted mobile phone voicemail messages to get gossip for stories. Detectives are also looking into whether reporters paid police for information.

The case forced Murdoch's News Corp to shut the News of the World tabloid in July. Top London police officers have resigned and Prime Minister David Cameron's media advisor - a former News of the World editor - quit and was arrested.

A 41-year-old man has been detained in London on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages and perverting the course of justice, police said. He was being held at a south London police station.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman gave no further details about the arrested man, other than to say he was not a police officer. Police have made about 20 arrests in the phone hacking case so far.

Suspected targets of the telephone hacking at the News of the World include celebrities and politicians, families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and crime victims, including a missing schoolgirl who was later found dead.

The scandal forced Murdoch's News Corp to abandon plans to take complete control over Britain's BSkyB satellite TV broadcaster, and has put his son James, the executive in charge of UK operations, under fire in parliamentary hearings.

Cameron has established an inquiry into press practices, which in recent weeks has heard testimony from movie stars, politicians and crime victims complaining that they have been hounded by reporters whose methods they believe are illegal.

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