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Saturday 16 July 2011

News of the World phone hacking: Andy Coulson arrested and his computer seized

Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister’s former press spokesman, was arrested yesterday by detectives investigating alleged phone hacking and illegal payments to police during his tenure as editor of the News of the World.

Coulson arrested and his computer seized
As he left Lewisham police station last night, Mr Coulson said: “There is an awful lot I would like to say, but I can’t at this time.” He was released on police bail until October.  Photo: GETTY

Clive Goodman, the newspaper’s former royal correspondent, who was jailed for phone hacking in 2007, was also arrested on suspicion of being involved in illegal payments to officers.

The pair were taken to separate south London police stations and questioned on allegations of corruption and, in

Mr Coulson’s case, conspiring to intercept communications.

As he left Lewisham police station last night, Mr Coulson said: “There is an awful lot I would like to say, but I can’t at this time.” He was released on police bail until October.

It is expected that further arrests of senior News of the World figures will follow in the coming days. The arrest of Mr Coulson comes eight months after he last spoke to police over allegations of phone hacking while he was editing the Sunday tabloid.

It puts pressure on David Cameron who appointed Mr Coulson to his position in Downing Street, despite his association with the phone hacking scandal. Mr Coulson resigned from the tabloid after the conviction of Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective, in 2007.

He resigned from his job at No 10 in January this year amid allegations that he knew about the extent of phone hacking during his editorship.

The 43-year-old was arrested by appointment at 10.30am. His arrest was conducted by officers from Operation Weeting, the inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World, and Operation Elveden, the investigation into allegations that a handful of police officers were illegally paid £100,000 by the newspaper during Mr Coulson’s editorship.

While Mr Coulson was being questioned his home in Dulwich, south London, was searched by detectives who left after two hours with his computer. Goodman, who was sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty to phone hacking four years ago, was arrested by officers at his home in Surrey just after 6am yesterday.

Unlike Mr Coulson, he was not aware he was going to be arrested and officers immediately began a search of his home. He was also released on bail until October. Detectives also searched the offices of the Daily Star Sunday newspaper, where Goodman, 53, has been working recently. Officers left with a disc containing all of Goodman’s computer activity, it was reported. Both arrests came after News International, the parent company of the News of the World, handed a series of emails to police in June which allegedly detail illegal payments made to Scotland Yard officers.

The officers, said to number fewer than five, are alleged to have been paid a total of about £100,000 from January 2003 when Mr Coulson became the editor of the newspaper.

It is thought that the payments were made in exchange for sensitive information. None of the officers is said to be senior. All are below the rank of commander. Detectives in Scotland Yard’s Department of Professional Standards are working to identify the officers.

Once they are identified, the Independent Police Complaints Commission will take over the investigation.

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