The British newspaper News of the World has suspended a senior executive, after documents suggesting his possible involvement in the illegal hacking of phone messages came to light.
Ian Edmondson, the assistant editor for news at the tabloid, was suspended from his position shortly before Christmas. The News of the World's move followed the emergence of a document written by lawyers for the actor Sienna Miller, alleging that Edmondson had ordered a private investigator to hack Miller's voicemail messages.
Miller is bringing a civil case on privacy and harassment grounds against Mulcaire and the News of the World.
In a statement issued this afternoon, a spokesperson for the News International newspaper said that the allegations against Edmondson were being taken seriously.
"The allegation is the subject of litigation and our internal investigation will take place in tandem with that," she said.
"If the conclusion of the investigation or the litigation is that the allegation is proven, appropriate action will be taken. The News of the World has a zero tolerance approach to any wrong-doing."
In their submission, Miller's solicitor Mark Thomson and barrister Hugh Tomlinson cited handwritten notes by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator previously convicted for hacking phones while on the News of the World's payroll.
The submission highlighted several pages in Mulcaire's notes that had been marked "Ian", arguing that they pointed to Edmondson's direct involvement.
The document also detailed what the lawyers said was an exclusive agreement between the News of the World and Mulcaire, under which the private investigator would use "electronic intelligence and eavesdropping" to obtain information on behalf of the paper.
Mulcaire was convicted and jailed in 2007 for phone hacking offences alongside Clive Goodman, the paper's royal editor. The News of the World has long maintained that Goodman was a "rogue" reporter.
Should further evidence emerge that phone hacking at the News of the World was widespread or undertaken with the authorisation of senior executives, it would be a major embarrassment for the Metropolitan Police, which has been accused on multiple occasions of lacking rigour in its investigations.
Media Spy discussion: International Journalism and Media