Two journalists, Ian Edmondson and Neville Thurlbeck, were arrested by detectives investigating allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World.
Both men were released from custody and have been bailed to return in September. The pair, aged 50 and 42 respectively, were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages.
This marks the first arrests since the Metropolitan Police reopened its inquiry into claims that staff at the top-selling Sunday newspaper hacked into the mobile phone voicemail messages of celebrities and politicians.
Codename: Operation Weeting
The police investigation, codenamed Operation Weeting, was launched in January after receiving new information from the paper’s publisher, News International.
The decision to reopen the investigation came amid a steady flow of new allegations about the practice of intercepting the mobile phone messages of high-profile public figures, including actress Sienna Miller and former prime minister Gordon Brown.
Scotland Yard has faced a torrent of criticism over its handling of the original case, which led to the conviction of the News of the World’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in 2007.
Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigned as Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of communications in January after admitting that the ongoing claims about illegal eavesdropping under his command were making his job impossible.
The News of the World sacked Edmondson from his job as assistant editor (news) days later after evidence emerged linking him to phone hacking.
In 2009, a journalist for The Guardian alleged in evidence to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee that Thurlbeck had received transcripts of intercepted calls.
The MPs were shown an email apparently sent to Mulcaire by a junior News of the World reporter in 2005 which stated: “This is the transcript for Neville.”
The email included a typed record of voicemail messages exchanged between Professional Footballers’ Association boss Gordon Taylor and his legal adviser.