The News of the World phone hacking scandal may have claimed its highest profile victim, with news that Andy Coulson — former senior News of the World journalist and press secretary to the now Prime Minister David Cameron — is to be arrested Friday.
The Guardian reports that Coulson has been told by police that he will be arrested "on suspicions that he knew about, or had direct involvement in, the hacking of mobile phones during his editorship of the News of the World."
Amid fresh allegations that Britain’s war dead, murder victims and a lawyer connected to Princess Diana were targeted in phone hackings by the News Corp.-owned tabloid, MSNBC reported Thursday that the arrests of up to five News of the World employees were expected within days.
James Murdoch — chairman of News International — meanwhile, announced Thursday that the News of the World close for good after Sunday’s edition.
"Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper. This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World," the Toronto star quotes James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, as saying. "The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself."
Additionally, Murdoch said, the 168-year-old News of the World, Britain's biggest-selling Sunday newspaper, will donate all revenue from the paper's last edition this Sunday to "good causes," the SMH reports.
The scandal has hit close to home for News Corp., with suggestions that it could slow down the company's attempt to buy British satellite TV network BSkyB.
It has also triggered an advertiser boycott after it was alleged that Murdoch journalists gained access to the mobile phone data of a missing 13-year-old girl who was subsequently found to have been murdered.
And calls for a public inquiry are mounting, the SMH reports.
Coulson was contacted on Thursday by detectives and told to present at a police station in London on Friday, where he will be told that he will be formally questioned under suspicion of involvement in hacking, the Guardian reports.
Coulson resigned as David Cameron's director of communications in January. Cameron was reportedly saddened by Coulson's resignation in January as the phone scandal gathered steam. The two had become "good friends" in the three and a half years Coulson spent as "a key member of the Cameron inner circle," the Guardian reported at the time.