The Metropolitan Police will undertake a fresh criminal investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World, announcing on Wednesday that the paper's publisher had provided it with "significant new information" regarding allegations against the tabloid.
Adding to an eventful week in the ongoing phone-hacking affair, News International revealed shortly afterward that it had sacked Ian Edmondson, a senior News of the World executive accused of having directed a private investigator to intercept voicemail messages.
In a statement, Scotland Yard said that the new investigation would take place alongside the Crown Prosecution Service's (CPS) recently-announced review of evidence from the original police investigation.
"The MPS has today (26 January) received significant new information from News International relating to allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World in 2005/06," the Met said.
"As a result, the MPS is launching a new investigation to consider this material. This work will be carried out by the Specialist Crime Directorate which has been investigating a related phone hacking allegation since September 2010."
News International confirmed that it had supplied the Met with evidence obtained during an internal investigation into Edmondson's conduct at the tabloid, where he was the assistant editor for news.
"Mr Edmondson was suspended in December 2010 following a serious allegation. Material evidence found during the course of the subsequent investigation has led to Mr Edmondson's dismissal," the News Corporation subsidiary said in a statement.
"News International has informed the police, handed over the material it has found and will give its full cooperation going forward. News International reiterates that it will take swift and decisive action when we have proof of wrongdoing."
The BBC's Robert Peston said that the decision to fire Edmondson was made following the discovery of four emails indicating that he "had full knowledge of the illegal phone hacking activities" being undertaken by Mulcaire. Edmondson reportedly lied to News International when quizzed about the phone-hacking affair in the past.
The oncoming storm
Pressure on Edmondson mounted in December following the publication of court documents from a civil case being brought against the News of the World and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. Lawyers for the actor Sienna Miller used Mulcaire's notes to substantiate allegations that Edmondson had been instructing Mulcaire.
Mulcaire has lodged a statement at the High Court alleging that Edmondson gave him orders to hack phones at the News of the World.
The decision to terminate Edmondson's employment confirms that the News of the World and its owner have shifted their stance on illegal activities at the paper, having previously maintained that its former royal editor Clive Goodman - jailed alongside Mulcaire in 2007 - was a "rogue reporter".
Suspicions of widespread phone hacking at the tabloid have continued ever since the scandal emerged five years ago. The lack of further charges against employees of the News of the World in connection with illegal interceptions has not stopped a string of public figures commencing litigation against the paper's owner.
Last Friday, the lingering doubts brought about the resignation of Andy Coulson from his position as Prime Minister David Cameron's director of communications. Coulson served as the editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007, but has stated under oath that he knew nothing about phone hacking taking place during his tenure.
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