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The former head of news and current chief reporter of the News of the World have been arrested on suspicion of phone hacking in London, sources said.

Ian Edmondson, 42, and Neville Thurlbeck, 50, were held by Scotland Yard detectives when they attended separate police stations in south-west London by appointment on Tuesday morning.

The pair were questioned on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages.

These are the first arrests since the Metropolitan Police reopened its inquiry into claims that staff at the top-selling Sunday newspaper hacked into the answerphone messages of celebrities, politicians and Royals.

Scotland Yard has endured a torrent of criticism over its handling of the original case, which led to the conviction of the News of the World's royal editor, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in 2007.

In January the force launched a fresh investigation, codenamed Operation Weeting, after receiving "significant new information" from the paper's publisher, News International.


The decision came amid a steady flow of new allegations about the practice of intercepting the mobile phone messages of high-profile public figures, said to range from actress Sienna Miller to former prime minister Gordon Brown.

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigned as Prime Minister David Cameron's director of communications in January after admitting that the drip-drip of claims about illegal eavesdropping under his command was making his job impossible.

Edmondson's solicitor, Eddie Parladorio, said: "I can confirm that Mr Edmondson was arrested today. He attended voluntarily at the police station. Other than that I have no comment." Mr Parladorio also stressed that Edmondson has not been charged with any offence.

News International later said in a statement: "News International has consistently reiterated that it will not tolerate wrong-doing and is committed to acting on evidence. We continue to co-operate fully with the ongoing police investigation."


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