LONDON -- Police have arrested Tom Crone, a former legal executive in the Murdoch-owned News International group, the latest to be apprehended in connection with ongoing investigations into illegal phone hacking.
In a brief statement, Scotland Yard announced the arrest Thursday of a “60-year-old man ... on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications" as part their inquiry “into the hacking of telephone voicemail boxes.” He was taken for questioning to a London police station.
Crone was a senior member in the legal department of News International, News Corp.’s British media branch, with responsibility for the legal affairs of News of the World. He quit after revelations in July 2011 that the paper’s reporters had paid private investigators to illegally hack into the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler in 2009, prompting myriad judicial, civil and political inquiries.
Questioned by a panel of lawmakers last year, Crone claimed he was “pretty sure” that in 2008 he had informed James Murdoch, then-News International executive chairman, of suspected widespread phone hacking within News International papers and that it went beyond one or two "rogue reporters" including Clive Goodman, jailed in 2007 for hacking into phones of the British royal family. James Murdoch subsequently denied being informed of this.
Crone also said he advised James Murdoch in 2008 to stave off a threatened lawsuit by paying almost a million dollars to soccer executive Gordon Taylor who claimed his phone had been hacked by NI journalists.
In a statement in April, Crone rejected evidence provided by Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman, implying that Crone was responsible for what Murdoch termed a "culture of cover-up" of phone hacking within the company. He called it a "shameful lie."
More than 70 phone- and computer-hacking-related arrests have been made in three different police operations. Most of those nabbed have been media executives and journalists later released on bail. Eight have been charged with hacking-related offenses, including Andy Coulson, former media advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, and Rebekah Brooks, former News International executive.
Crone’s arrest comes a day after former London Times writer Patrick Foster, 29, was taken into custody on suspicion of computer hacking, the first journalist to be targeted from the flagship Murdoch daily.
-- Janet Stobart