FORMER News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was yesterday arrested ‘on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications’ and on ‘suspicion of corruption allegations’.
In a statement the police said: ‘The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) has this afternoon, Sunday 17 July, arrested a female in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking.
‘At approximately 12.00 a 43-year-old woman was arrested by appointment at a London police station by officers from Operation Weeting together with officers from Operation Elveden. She is currently in custody.
‘She was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, contrary to Section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977 and on suspicion of corruption allegations contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.
‘The Operation Weeting team is conducting the new investigation into phone hacking.
‘Operation Elveden is the investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police. This investigation is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
‘It would be inappropriate to discuss any further details regarding these cases at this time.’
A PR spokesperson for Brooks issued the following statement about her arrest: ‘Rebekah is assisting the police with their enquiries. She attended a London police station voluntarily.
‘It was a pre-arranged appointment. We are unable to comment further as it is an ongoing police investigation.’
Brooks is due to appear before the House of Commons Culture and Media Committee tomorrow.
The lawyer for murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s family said the timing of the arrest ‘stinks’.
Mark Lewis said: ‘The arrest was made by appointment. One has to ask when the appointment was made because obviously Mrs Brooks has said she is due to appear before the select committee on Tuesday.’
He added: ‘Undoubtedly she will have the opportunity on Tuesday at the select committee to say I’m sorry I can’t answer that because of the fact I am under police investigation.’
He said: ‘One has to ask the police when that appointment was made.’
He insisted: ‘The timing stinks. It gives the impression that questions can’t be answered.’
Commentators were saying yesterday that Brooks’ arrest was a case of the police getting their own back over allegations of Commissioner Paul Stephenson’s relations with ex-News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis.
Home Office minister James Brokenshire said yesterday that Home Secretary Theresa May is planning to make a statement to parliament today about the relationship between the Met Police and Chamy Media, the firm run by Wallis, who was also arrested last week.
Brokenshire said that May ‘does have some concerns still in relation to the Metropolitan Police’s relationship with Chamy Media’.
Murdoch’s Sunday Times reported yesterday that Met Commissioner Stephenson and his wife accepted 20 nights on full board, free, at luxury health spa Champneys as he was recuperating from hospital treatment earlier this year.
Stephenson says he was unaware that the Champneys publicist was Neil Wallis.
Shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, told the Andrew Marr show: ‘There is a cloud created over the Met as a result of this. And I do think both the Met leadership and also the home secretary need to take some action now.
‘She should be demanding full disclosure. She should be setting out what action the Met needs to take in order to restore that confidence.’