Business, Finance & Economics

Neville Thurlbeck, ex-News of the World journalist, arrested in connection to phone hacking scandal again


Neville Thurlbeck, former chief reporter of the News of the World newspaper, leaves the Royal Courts of Justice after giving evidence to The Leveson Inquiry on December 12, 2011 in London, England. The inquiry is being lead by Lord Justice Leveson and is looking into the culture, practice and ethics of the press in the United Kingdom. The inquiry, which will take evidence from interested parties and may take a year or more to complete, comes in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that saw the closure of The News of The World newspaper.


Peter Macdiarmid

Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter at News of the World, was arrested again on Wednesday for his role in the phone hacking scandal that shook Rupert Murdoch's news empire. 

Thurlbeck, 51, was taken into custody by British police on Wednesday afternoon for allegedly intimidating a witness, Agence France Presse reported. He was initially arrested on suspicion of the illegal interception of mobile phone voicemails in April 2011, and has been on police bail since.

Thurlbeck is a key figure in the scandal because of an email addressed to him that allegedly revealed that phone hacking at the News of the World was more widespread than the newspaper's senior executives had claimed, AFP reported. 

The arrest comes a day after Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, and her husband Charlie Brooks were arrested and bailed on "suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice" in relation to the same police investigation, the Guardian reported

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Over 20 people have been arrested in relation to Operation Weeting, the phone hacking investigation, Bloomberg Businessweek reported, as police focused their investigation on a possible cover up. 

"I could have asked more questions, requested more documents and taken a more challenging and skeptical view of what I was told, and I will do so in the future," James Murdoch, Rupert's son, wrote in a letter to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee investigating the scandal, according to BBC News. "I have sought to explain, however, that it was reasonable for me to rely on my senior executives to inform me of what I needed to know. In this case, the approach fell short. But it is important to know that I did not turn a blind eye."

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Last week, Thurlbeck published a blog post with the street address of Will Lewis, a senior executive at News International, the British counterpart to Murdoch's US-based News Corporation, the Guardian reported. 

He later removed the address, saying it was "distressing to [Lewis's] family" and that he "would like to apologize to Mrs Lewis for any distress," according to the Guardian. 

Murdoch closed his 168-year-old News of the World tabloid in July as information emerged that the phone hacking had targeted a wider range of victims than previously acknowledged, including celebrities and a teenage murder victim, the Associated Press reported

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