Two more arrests in newspaper hacking inquiry

Police investigating alleged phone-hacking at the News of the World arrested the paper’s chief reporter and former head of news yesterday.

Neville Thurlbeck, 50, and Ian Edmondson, 42, were held by Scotland Yard detectives when they voluntarily attended separate police stations in south west London. A Metropolitan Police spokesman last night said that two men arrested in connection with the investigation had been released on police bail to return in September.

Officers questioned the pair on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages.

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Thurlbeck is a veteran reporter who has brought in some of the News of the World’s most famous scoops, while Edmondson was sacked as the paper’s assistant editor (news) in January after evidence emerged linking him to phone-tapping.

They were the first people arrested since Scotland Yard reopened its inquiry into claims that staff at the top-selling Sunday newspaper hacked into the answerphone messages of celebrities, politicians and royals.

A committee of MPs heard allegations in 2009 that a transcript of voicemail messages between Professional Footballers Association boss Gordon Taylor and his legal adviser was prepared for Thurlbeck.

Edmondson’s solicitor, Eddie Parladorio, stressed that his client attended the police station voluntarily and had not been charged.

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News International, publisher of the News of the World, said it was co-operating fully with the investigation.

The company said in a statement: “In January News International voluntarily approached the Met Police 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 wrongdoing and is committed to acting on evidence.”

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Scotland Yard has endured repeated criticism over its handling of its original phone-hacking inquiry.

Actress Sienna Miller obtained a High Court ruling yesterday ordering Vodafone to disclose data relating to other mobile phone users so she can identify who called her number in an attempt to access her voicemails.

Meanwhile, director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said yesterday that prosecutors’ advice to Scotland Yard at the time of the original phone-hacking inquiry “did not limit the scope and extent of the criminal investigation”.

His comments to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee contradicted evidence given last week by Acting Deputy Commissioner John Yates.

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