Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, has been arrested in connection with phone hacking and corruption.
The Metropolitan Police said shortly before 1:30pm BST (10:30pm AEST) that a 43-year-old woman had been arrested by appointment on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of corruption allegations. Police sources confirmed that the arrested woman was Brooks, who resigned from her position as the head of News Corporation's British publishing arm on Friday.
Brooks was arrested at noon by detectives from Operation Weeting, the police investigation into phone hacking, together with detectives from Operation Elveden, which is looking into allegations of police bribes. She is the highest-profile and highest-ranking individual to be arrested by the two investigations so far.
The arrest casts doubt on whether she will still be able to give evidence before a scheduled hearing of the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday afternoon. The chairman of the committee, John Whittingdale, indicated that he was not sure whether she would appear.
Scotland Yard is now likely to face questions about when exactly the appointment was made and how the timing was determined. The latest arrest comes at a time when the Met is itself facing mounting pressure over the close relationship between senior officers - including the commissioner - and executives at the News of the World and its parent company.
Brooks' public relations representative told The Guardian that the former News International chief did not know at the time of arranging the interview with police that she would be arrested.
Brooks was the editor of the News of the World between 2000 and 2003, a period during which some of the most explosive and damaging instances of alleged phone hacking took place. She has strongly denied that she knew about or condoned illegal practices at the newspaper.
Among the allegations are that journalists at the tabloid hacked into and deleted voicemail messages from the voicemail inbox of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler while she was still missing, and that the paper targeted the parents of the Soham murder victims Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Those incidents are alleged to have taken place in 2002.
At a parliamentary committee hearing in March 2003 shortly after moving to The Sun, Brooks admitted that "we have paid the police for information in the past", a statement from which she and Andy Coulson subsequently attempted to backpedal.
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