Tom Crone, the former top lawyer for News Corp. (NWSA)’s U.K. unit, was arrested by London police probing phone-hacking at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Crone was detained at his home and is being interviewed by the Metropolitan Police Service, said the person, who asked not be identified because the matter isn’t public. The Met didn’t identify Crone in a statement today about the arrest of a 60- year-old man in the investigation, called Operation Weeting.
Crone emerged as a key figure in the phone-hacking scandal last year when he and Colin Myler, a former editor at the newspaper, contradicted testimony given to Parliament by News Corp. Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch regarding when he found out about the extent of phone hacking at the company’s U.K. unit, News International.
The investigation into the widespread interception of mobile-phone voice mail by journalists is running parallel to probes into computer hacking at News Corp.’s Times newspaper and bribery of public officials by its Sun tabloid, the country’s best-selling daily title. Police in London and Glasgow, Scotland, arrested two ex-News Corp. employees yesterday in the related probes.
The Guardian newspaper reported Crone’s identity earlier.
Crone’s lawyer, Henri Brandman, didn’t immediately return a call for comment. A receptionist said Brandman was at a police interview and didn’t name the lawyer’s client.
Crone was the News of the World’s attorney until it was closed in July 2011 in response to the scandal. More than 60 arrests have resulted from the three probes that police began last year after new evidence was uncovered in civil lawsuits by victims. Investigations in 2006 and 2009 failed to reveal the extent of the illegal practice.
The first charges in the hacking case were filed last month against eight journalists, including former News International Chief Executive Officer Rebekah Brooks and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who later became a press adviser to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.
Crone, Myler and former News International Chairman Les Hinton gave misleading testimony to the parliamentary committee probing phone hacking in 2009, a panel of lawmakers said in a report in May. The committee is considering whether the trio should be punished for contempt.
Myler and Crone, summoned before the parliamentary committee as the scandal peaked last year, denied having misled it in 2009 when they said they didn’t know that phone-hacking went beyond a single reporter jailed for the practice in 2007. Evidence sent to the panel later showed both men had been informed about such claims. When James Murdoch told the committee that Crone and Myler had kept evidence from him, they replied that they had showed it to him.
News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop declined to comment on today’s arrest.
Separately, Judge Brian Leveson, who is overseeing a media- ethics inquiry spawned by the scandals, complained in a letter to U.K. newspapers today about their reporting of details related to his upcoming report. Letters he sent to witnesses informing them they will be criticized in the report, to give them a chance to respond, are private and shouldn’t have been described in news articles yesterday, he said.
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