Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper division, was arrested by British police today as part of the burgeoning telephone hacking scandal. NPR's David Folkenflik tells the NPR Newscast desk that Brooks' husband, Charlie, was also arrested, along with four other men.
It's the second time she's been detained; Brooks was picked up last July on other charges related to the scandal. Now The Guardian reports she and the others were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
Phone hacking — the illegal interception of private voice mail conversations — was allegedly used by certain journalists at one British tabloid, News of the World. The paper folded in July after the Guardian reported its journalists hacked the mobile phone of a murdered school girl and phones of relatives of the British bus bombings. Public outrage swelled.
The hacking scandal widened to include published material about members of the royal family, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (his newborn son's illness was front page tabloid fodder), and celebrities, such as singer Charlotte Church (who just won a settlement of nearly $1 million), and even people connected to celebrities, such as Church's family priest, according to Bloomberg. The BBC explains more here.
Last July, Brooks resigned her job as CEO of News International, which owned News of the World, as scandals came to light. David told Morning Edition last summer it's not clear that the now-defunct tabloid was fully truthful about what it knew about hacking.
The scandal has triggered at least two investigations and more inquiries by members of the British parliament into the corrupt practices of News Corp. and other journalists in Britain.
The spokesman for the British Metropolitan Police testified that senior police officers leaked many stories to journalists in the months before February 2008, according to BusinessWeek. One senior police officer recently testified that her department found journalists were "paid significant sums of money to public officials," according to Reuters. She found the corruption "in all areas of public life" and warned that high level executives knew about it.
It's possible the new arrest could mean additional charges for Brooks and her husband, according to CNN.
Update at noon ET. More From David.
On his Twitter page, David notes that:
— "Unlike others recently, arrests of Brooks & Charlie & 4 others were not result of information turned over by News Corp internal inquiry"
— "Charlie Brooks, Rebekah's husband, a friend of PM Cameron for decades - as PM noted when explaining why he had ridden her ex-police horse..."
— "Notable: 8 mos after 1st charges agst Rebekah Brooks, still no criminal charges filed yet against her. British system works diff than US."