LONDON Aug 30 Tom Crone, a former senior legal
executive at Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper business, has
been arrested by police investigating allegations of
phone-hacking by journalists, media reported on Thursday.
London police confirmed they had arrested a 60-year-old man
at his home in southwest London on suspicion of conspiring to
intercept communications, but declined to name him.
However Crone, the former legal chief of Murdoch's News of
the World tabloid on which the police inquiry is centred, was
the arrested man, according to Sky News, part of Murdoch's News
Corp group, and other media outlets.
There was no answer from Crone's mobile phone when Reuters
tried to contact him.
Eight senior figures at the now-defunct News of the World
have been charged with conspiring to hack phones, including
former editor and Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media chief
Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, who oversaw Murdoch's British
newspaper arm News International.
The scandal has not only rocked News Corp, it has put the
notoriously aggressive British press under the spotlight and
embarrassed senior politicians, including Cameron, over their
often cosy ties with the Australian-born businessman.
Crone resigned from his post in July last year at the height
of public anger over revelations journalists from the News of
the World Sunday tabloid had hacked the phones of people ranging
from celebrities and politicians to victims of crime.
He subsequently fell out with Murdoch and his son James,
then News International chairman, accusing James of giving false
information to a parliamentary committee about an email in 2008
which indicated that hacking was widespread on the tabloid.
James Murdoch has denied knowing about the full scale of the
problem until it became apparent last year and said Crone
himself had misled lawmakers.
At a public inquiry into Britain's newspaper industry
ordered by Cameron in the wake of the outcry over phone-hacking,
Rupert Murdoch blamed a culture of cover-up on Crone, an
allegation the lawyer described as a "shameful lie".
Detectives have now arrested 25 people as part of the
phone-hacking probe, and have held more than 50 others in
related inquiries into illegal payments to public officials and
the hacking of computers.
On Wednesday, detectives arrested a 28-year-old former Times
journalist over suspected offences under the Computer Misuse Act
over hacking that led to the identification of an anonymous
blogger in 2009.
Patrick Foster, former media correspondent at the Murdoch's
newspaper, wrote a story exposing a police officer as the author
of a popular blog, information which the paper's editor admitted
had resulted from the hacking of the blogger's email account.
The arrests come as senior judge Justice Brian Leveson
prepares to deliver the findings from his 10-month inquiry into
press ethics after hearing evidence from hundreds of witnesses
including many who condemned papers' tactics and behaviour.
One newspaper editor said Leveson had sent a letter to major
newspaper groups giving them advance warning of possible
criticism in his final report, calling it a "damning indictment"
of the industry.
"The best way I can describe it is that he's loading a gun,
and this document, well over 100 pages, is all the ammunition,"
Chris Blackhurst, editor of the Independent, told BBC radio,
adding he was worried about the inquiry's outcome.
"Believe you me there is plenty of ammunition - you read it
and you just gulp."