Rebekah Brooks, a former editor and close confidante of Rupert Murdoch, was arrested for a second time on Tuesday in a phone-hacking scandal that has rocked the British establishment and embarrassed Prime Minister David Cameron.
A source familiar with the situation said Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie, a close friend of Cameron, were detained by police at dawn and had been taken for questioning at separate police stations.
Brooks and and her husband were were held on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in the long-running saga and were among six people arrested in coordinated raids across Britain.
The 43-year-old former News of the World editor, instantly recognizable for her long red hair, was arrested in July over different allegations but only after she arrived at a London police station by appointment.
“The coordinated arrests were made between approximately 0500 and 0700 this morning,” the police said. “A number of addresses connected to the arrests are being searched.”
News Corp, Murdoch’s media empire, owned the now-defunct News of the World Sunday tabloid at the centre of the investigations. It declined to comment on the arrests although it did confirm that Mark Hanna, the head of security at its British newspaper arm, had also been held.
One of the descriptions of those arrested on Tuesday fitted James Murdoch, son of Rupert, but two sources close to the 39-year-old said he was in the United States. The police did not name those it had arrested.
Conspiring to pervert the course of justice, which in this investigation has meant the destruction of email evidence, could result in a more lengthy jail sentence than that handed down for hacking into mobile phones to search for gossip and story ideas.
The News of the World’s former royal reporter Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for four and six months respectively in 2007 for phone-hacking offences.
A judge handling the civil law suits brought against News Corp has already criticized the company for deleting emails.
The stream of allegations and arrests have shaken News Corp and damaged police and politicians from all major political parties, revealing the extremely close ties between the media and elements of the political and police establishment.
The 168-year-old News of the World was shut down in July at the height of the scandal, while two of Britain’s most senior police officers quit their posts after being accused of failing to properly investigate the allegations.