Phone-hacking inquiry: Two journalists arrested

Ian Edmondson (l) and Neville Thurlbeck
Image caption Edmondson (l) and Thurlbeck are suspected of having unlawfully intercepted voicemail messages

A News of the World reporter and an ex-news editor have been arrested by police investigating allegations of phone hacking, the BBC understands.

Chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, 50, and former news editor Ian Edmondson, 42, are suspected of having unlawfully intercepted voicemail messages.

The men voluntarily attended two London police stations and were later released on bail until September.

The News of the World's owner said it was co-operating "fully" with police.

Scotland Yard said the arrested pair, who they have not identified, were also held on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.

News International co-operation

Mr Edmondson was sacked by the News of the World in January after evidence emerged linking him to hacking claims.

His solicitor, Eddie Parladorio, said on Tuesday: "I can confirm Mr Edmondson was arrested today. He attended voluntarily at the police station. Other than that I have no comment."

In a statement the newspaper's owner, News International, said it had voluntarily approached the Metropolitan Police in January and provided information "that led to the opening of the current police investigation".

"News International terminated the employment of the assistant editor (news) of the News of the World at the same time. News International has consistently reiterated that it will not tolerate wrong-doing and is committed to acting on evidence," it said.

The latest arrests are the first since the Met Police reopened its inquiry - known as Operation Weeting - into claims that staff at the Sunday tabloid had hacked into the phone messages of celebrities and other public figures.

Image caption Keir Starmer QC has been hearing evidence on phone hacking

The arrests came as Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions, gave fresh evidence to MPs which appeared to contradict the evidence of John Yates, acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Mr Yates had previously told the home affairs committee that there were only a small number of victims.

That was based on what he said had been legal advice that the police would have to prove that messages had been intercepted and also listened to before being heard by the recipient.

But in a letter clarifying the affair, Mr Starmer said that advice from Crown Prosecution Service lawyers to detectives "did not limit the scope and extent of the criminal investigation".

The letter says that even though parts of the law were very much untested, one particular offence did not require police to prove that a message had been intercepted before the recipient heard it.

Sienna Miller ruling

In 2007, the first police investigation into phone hacking led to the convictions and imprisonment of then News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was employed by the paper.

Four alleged victims have reached out-of-court settlements with the newspaper, including celebrity publicist Max Clifford, who received a reported £1m.

Fourteen people, including football agent Sky Andrew, comedian Steve Coogan and sports commentator Andy Gray, are now suing News International.

It also emerged on Tuesday that actress Sienna Miller had obtained a court ruling ordering phone operator Vodafone to disclose data relating to other users - so-called third party disclosure.

Mr Justice Vos at the High Court heard that Vodafone did not oppose the orders sought by Ms Miller and publicist Ciara Parkes.

A number of other alleged victims have obtained similar disclosure applications against the Met Police backing their privacy claims.

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