17 Jul 2011

Rebekah Brooks arrested over phone hacking claims

Rebekah Brooks says she is “helping police with their enquiries” after being arrested at an appointment in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking. She has been released on bail.

A spokesman for Rebekah Brooks said: “She voluntarily attended a London police station to assist the investigation. This was a pre-arranged appointment.”

The police said they had arrested a 43-year-old female in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking.

She was arrested at an appointment at a London police station by officers from Operation Weeting together with officers from Operation Elveden. She was released on bail at midnight on Sunday.

The arrest is the latest development in the phone hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World.

Rebekah Brooks quit her role as Chief Executive of News International on Friday and is due to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport committee on Tuesday, along with Rupert Murdoch and his son James to answer questions about the phone hacking claims.

However her appearance before that committee is in doubt now, as legal conditions following a police arrest may prevent them discussing some issues. Ms Brooks’ own spokesman said: “her arrest will make her apperance before the committee pretty tricky.”

Mr Bryant, a former Labour MP Chris Bryant, said he was delighted that she had been arrested but wished it had been done sooner: “I thought she should have been arrested back in 2003 when she said that she had paid police officers for information because that is bribery and corruption.

However he told Channel 4 News that he “had a sneaking suspicion about the timing of the arrest being remarkably convenient”.

However he added: “But if anybody at News International thinks that this means Parliament will not be able to ask it questions, they’ve got another think coming.”

The Operation Weeting team is conducting the new investigation into phone hacking, and Operation Elveden is the investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police.

Earlier today, Labour leader Ed Miliband called for Rupert Murdoch’s empire to be broken up, saying he had “too much power over British life”.