On Sunday, U.K. police arrested Rebekah Brooks, former head of News of the World, as part of an investigation into the phone hacking and bribery scandal that flared up over the alleged hacking of murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler’s cell phone in 2002. The scandal has touched high-level U.K. officials and News of the World’s powerful owner, News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, and caused News Corp. to shut down the 168-year-old tabloid.
Brooks, who runs in a social circle that includes some of the U.K.’s most influential people (including current and previous prime ministers), went by appointment to the police station to talk with officers voluntarily about the investigation and was reportedly surprised to be arrested on arrival. Bloomberg reports the arrest was due to suspicion of corruption and conspiring to intercept communications. Brooks posted bail and was released late Sunday night.
In a televised statement, Brooks’s lawyer protested the arrest and nine-hour questioning since police didn’t confront her with any allegations. “She is not guilty of any criminal offense,” he said. The police “will in due course have to give an account of their actions and, in particular, their decision to arrest her with the enormous reputational damage that this has involved.”
Brooks was already scheduled to appear before Parliament this week over the scandal, but her spokesman has said the arrest will make speaking freely to lawmakers “pretty tricky.” Some British lawmakers are also complaining that the timing of the arrest may impede their questioning.
But Mark Lewis, a lawyer for hacking victims in the case, supports the arrest. “Undoubtedly she should have been arrested,” he said. “She was editor of the newspaper at the time that Milly Dowler was abducted and killed. The police undoubtedly have to ask her questions about what happened and what she knew or doesn’t know.”
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