Rebekah Brooks has been arrested by police investigating allegations of phone hacking by the News of the World and allegations that police officers were bribed to leak sensitive information.
The Metropolitan police said a 43-year-old woman was arrested at noon on Sunday, by appointment at a London police station.
Brooks, 43, resigned on Friday as News International’s chief executive. She is a former News of the World editor and was close to Rupert Murdoch and the prime minister, David Cameron.
A spokesman for Brooks said she did not know she was going to be arrested when she handed in her resignation.
Perhaps she didn’t know on Friday that her arrest this weekend was imminent, but she had to have had some inkling that the police were going to be closing in on her at some point. After all, she was in charge of the now defunct News of the World when most of the alleged crimes we’ve heard about were committed.
From our vantage point halfway around the world, the writing was on the wall.
Meanwhile, Britain’s top law enforcement official, Sir Paul Stephenson, has announced his resignation from Scotland Yard.
“I have taken this decision as a consequence of the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to the Met’s links with News International at a senior level and in particular in relation to Mr. Neil Wallis,” Stephenson said.
(Neil Wallis is a former executive editor of the News of the World who was hired by Stephenson as a consultant in 2009. The police recently arrested him in connection with the phone hacking affair).
However, he maintained that his integrity had never been compromised.
Separately, Labour’s Ed Miliband issued a call for new media ownership rules, saying he believed current regulations were outdated and new requirements are sorely needed to limit Rupert Murdoch’s “dangerous” and “unhealthy” degree of control over the media landscape in the United Kingdom.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats (who forged a coalition government with the Conservatives last year) said he would be “very happy to sit down” with the Labour leader to discuss ideas.
If Labour and the Liberal Democrats agree on a proposal, the Conservatives, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, may have little choice but to go along, since by themselves, they constitute a minority in Parliament.
Last week, Miliband led the way in insisting that Parliament hold a vote expressing its opposition to News Corporation’s BSkyB bid. When the Liberal Democrats made it clear they would vote for Miliband’s motion, it didn’t take long for Cameron and the Conservatives to decide they would follow suit. That created a united front against Murdoch in the House of Commons.
Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch are currently preparing to be grilled before the House of Commons’ Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee on Tuesday, according to news reports.
The Daily Telegraph has a rundown of who will be questioning the Murdochs. Among them is Labour’s Tom Watson, a dogged critic of News Corporation who has been after the company for years. Long derided by Murdoch’s papers, Watson has become a hero in Britain overnight for his courage. He stood up to Rupert’s evil empire at a time when others were afraid to.
The Guardian has an extremely well written story explaining how Watson became a critic of News Corporation and how he landed on the Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee. It’s definitely worth a read.
If the last few days are any indication, the phone hacking scandal will continue to generate headlines for days to come.
This is like Watergate, only on a shorter timeline.