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British police widen phone-hacking inquiry with new arrests

July 11, 2012 |  7:19 am

LONDON -- British police have arrested two more suspects linked to phone hacking, revealing a widening of the investigation into tactics used by British media outlets. The new suspects are reported to be journalists from newspapers not owned by News Corp., which previously has been the focus of the investigation. 

Scotland Yard, London’s central police station, said in a brief statement Wednesday that two men were arrested by officers working with Operation Elveden, the inquiry into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials regarding phone-tapping.

The men were arrested on “suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and of conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office,” the statement said.

While the police did not reveal their identities, the two were quickly named in the press as Justin Penrose, a 37-year-old journalist from the Daily Mirror tabloid, and Tom Savage, 34, deputy news editor from the Daily Star Sunday, another popular tabloid.

The Trinity Mirror company confirmed in a statement that it had been informed by police that Penrose “was arrested this morning on suspicion of alleged payments to public officials.  We are cooperating fully with the police.”

Last week, another person arrested in the Operation Elveden investigation was named in the media as former Mirror reporter Greig Box Turnbull.

Neither the Daily Mirror nor the Daily Star belongs to News International, the British arm of News Corp., which owned the now-defunct News of the World, the Sunday tabloid first implicated in phone-hacking offenses last July  after revelations that journalists had commissioned wiretaps into the mobile phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler.

In the ensuing public outcry, News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch closed the paper and promised cooperation with authorities in their inquiries and compensation for several thousand victims, including celebrities and other newsworthy figures.

The scandal triggered parliamentary and civil inquiries into media ethics and practices, as well as  three ongoing investigations in which police have arrested more than 40 people connected to phone hacking, including former News International executives and editors, journalists and public officials.    

Murdoch split his company last month and separated its scandal-damaged publishing business from the more profitable entertainment side.


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-- Janet Stobart