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UK phone hacking arrests at new media: Mirror

Thursday - 3/14/2013, 1:40pm  ET

RAPHAEL SATTER
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) -- British police made four arrests for suspected phone hacking Thursday, the first time that top editors and journalists at the Mirror group have been implicated in the scandal that has rocked U.K. media.

One of those arrested was a former deputy to Piers Morgan, the current CNN interviewer, a person briefed on the arrests said.

London's Metropolitan Police said the arrests related to "a suspected conspiracy to intercept telephone voicemails," adding that the investigation "mainly concerned" activities at the Sunday Mirror tabloid between 2003 and 2004.

The Sunday Mirror, like the Daily Mirror, is owned by British newspaper company Trinity Mirror PLC, which also owns the Sunday People and a host of regional titles. The Mirror newspapers are major rivals to Rupert Murdoch's scandal-tainted media, which so far have been the main focus of the phone-hacking investigation.

In a statement, Trinity Mirror said that Sunday People editor James Scott and deputy Nick Buckley were two of the journalists arrested in the dawn raids. Scott is the first serving newspaper editor to be arrested as part of the scandal.

Also arrested was Tina Weaver, former editor of the Sunday Mirror and a onetime lieutenant to Morgan, a former U.K. tabloid editor-turned-CNN star, a person briefed on the arrest said.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the suspects.

Police did not confirm Weaver's name, saying only that a 47-year-old woman was one of the four journalists detained. But Weaver, who was born in 1965, got sympathy notes from fellow journalists. Neville Thurlbeck, a former News of the World reporter, sent a Twitter post saying his thoughts were with his former colleague Weaver, whom he said was pregnant and "under severe stress."

Ex-Sunday People Editor Mark Thomas was the fourth person arrested, according to the person briefed on the arrest.

The arrests opened a new front in Scotland Yard's investigation into phone hacking and other media misdeeds, a sprawling probe that began in 2011 after revelations of industrial-scale espionage at Murdoch's News of the World tabloid. Murdoch was forced to close down the tabloid amid an advertiser boycott, but veterans of Britain's fiercely competitive tabloid newspaper scene said it was only a matter of time before other newspapers were drawn in.

They soon were. Several journalists at Murdoch's The Sun tabloid-- the News of the World's sister paper -- have been arrested over allegations of bribery, while The Times of London has been hit by an allegation of computer hacking.

The Daily Mirror is being sued over allegations of phone hacking by victims' lawyer Mark Lewis.

All four arrested Thursday worked at the Sunday Mirror in the time frame given by police. Weaver edited the paper between 2001 and 2012; Thomas was deputy editor between 2001 and 2003; Scott succeeded him in 2004; Buckley served as the paper's head of news between 2001 and 2012.

Before her stint at the Sunday Mirror, Weaver served as Morgan's deputy on the Daily Mirror when he was the paper's editor.

Morgan's time at the Daily Mirror has been clouded by repeated allegations of phone hacking, some of them fed by Morgan's own statements. In a newspaper article in 2006, Morgan boasted of eavesdropping on a phone message left by Paul McCartney on his ex-wife Heather Mills' answering machine.

Morgan has refused to explain how he got the message, citing source confidentiality. He has repeatedly denied ever having hacked a phone or having ordered anyone else to hack a phone.


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