Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Glenn Mulcaire, the private eye at the centre of the News of the World phone hacking scandal, has been arrested

 

Glenn Mulcaire, the private eye at the centre of the News of the World phone hacking scandal, has been arrested by Scotland Yard detectives pursuing a fresh investigation into phone intercepts, according to a person familiar with the inquiry. Officers working on Operation Weeting – the Metropolitan Police’s second probe into phone hacking at News International, which owned the now-defunct Sunday tabloid – announced on Wednesday that they had arrested a 41-year-old man who was being held on suspicion of conspiracy to hack voicemail messages and perverting the course of justice.  Mr Mulcaire is the 16th person to be arrested under the new operation, and has already served a six-month prison sentence in 2007 after pleading guilty to intercepting phone messages. He was arrested at his home in Surrey in a dawn swoop and held in a south London police station. Detectives on Operation Weeting have used the private investigator’s notebooks – which contain the names of nearly 5,800 potential victims and run to around 11,000 pages – as the basis for their investigation, trawling through the documents to identify those who may have been hacked. The hacking scandal was reignited this summer when it was revealed that the News of the World had hacked into the voicemail messages of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler after she went missing in 2002, leading her parents to believe that she was still alive. Last month, Mr Mulcaire released a statement through his lawyer, denying that he had deleted voicemail messages on Ms Dowler’s phone. “[He] did not delete messages and had no reason to do so,” the statement read. The Financial Times could not reach Mr Mulcaire’s lawyer for comment on Wednesday. Chris Bryant, a Labour MP and suspected hacking victim, told the FT he was “quite encouraged” that Mr Mulcaire had been taken in for questioning. “I always thought this was a logical next step, but not one [the police] would take unless they had sufficient fresh evidence to put to [Mr Mulcaire], and it seems now they do,” he said. News of the arrest came as lawyers for Andy Coulson, the News of the World’s former editor, argued in the High Court on Wednesday that the tabloid’s parent company should continue to pay Mr Coulson’s legal bills arising from the criminal investigation into phone hacking. It emerged during the course of Mr Coulson’s evidence that News Group Newspapers – a subsidiary of News International – had continued to reimburse Mr Coulson for legal fees relating to his involvement in the judge-led phone hacking inquiry and parliamentary select committee hearings. The court heard that Mr Coulson had received a letter from Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of News International, in August informing him of an “immediate cessation” of payments in relation to criminal legal fees.

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