LONDON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - British police said on Wednesday they had arrested a 61-year-old man in their investigation into the phone-hacking scandal at the now-defunct News of the World, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media empire.
Sky News named the arrested man as Greg Miskiw, who ran the News of the World’s news desk for many years and was described in a parliamnetary committee as being a key link to a private detective at the centre of hacking allegations.
Miskiw, 61, one of the few senior editors at the time of the phone-hacking who had not yet been arrested, told Britain’s Channel 4 news last month he was preparing to return from his Florida home to Britain to talk to police.
A Reuters journalist who visited Miskiw’s Florida home in Delray Beach, some 60 miles (97 km) north of Miami, on Tuesday found it empty.
Miskiw’s name was listed on a mailbox outside the building, and some mail was piled up. There were no cars in front of the property and no one answered the door of his apartment.
The arrest is the 12th this year in an inquiry that has rocked News Corp and has had far-reaching implications for the British establishment.
It has already forced the resignations of former News of the World editor and Murdoch favourite Rebekah Brooks, and Britain’s top two policemen.
Rupert Murdoch and his son James have been quizzed in parliament about the affair. James Murdoch, who runs News Corp’s non-U.S. operations, may be recalled to face further questions after two senior former News International executives called his evidence into question.
Detectives said the latest suspect was arrested at midday after he arrived by appointment at a London police station on “suspicion of unlawful interception of communications” and conspiring to commit the same offence.
Police are probing allegations that journalists and private investigators, seeking gossip for stories, illegally intercepted voicemail messages on the mobile phones of targets ranging from celebrities and politicians to murder victims and the families of dead soldiers.
In 2007, the tabloid’s royal reporter Clive Goodman and private detective Glen Mulcaire, whose notebooks have since yielded thousands more names to be investigated, were jailed for hacking the phones of aides to Britain’s royal family.
Police are also looking into claims that some reporters paid bribes to police officers in return for information.
The 168-year-old News of the World was closed last month after allegations that 4,000 phones, including that of a murdered schoolgirl, had been hacked. News Corp was forced to drop a $12 billion bid for satellite broadcaster BSkyB .
Those arrested so far include Brooks and Andy Coulson, who succeeded her as editor until he quit in 2007 before becoming media chief for Prime Minister David Cameron. He resigned from that role in January.
Detectives have also quizzed Coulson’s deputy Neil Wallis, Goodman, James Weatherup, a senior News of the World reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, the paper’s chief reporter, Ian Edmondson, a former senior editor and Stuart Kuttner, its former managing editor.
When a parliamentary committee questioned the Murdochs last month, a lawmaker suggested there were six “gatekeepers” on the paper who dealt with Mulcaire.
“The names were Alex Marunchak, Greg Miskiw, Clive Goodman, Neville Thurlbeck, James Weatherup, and Ian Edmondson,” MP Paul Farrelly said. (Reporting by Michael Holden and Georgina Prodhan in London and Kevin Gray in Delray Beach, Florida; Editing by Alistair Lyon and Paul Taylor)