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Ex-Murdoch Aide Brooks 'Re-Arrested in Hacking Probe'

 
 
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 Police investigating phone hacking have re-arrested Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of the News of the World and one-time aide to media mogul Rupert Murdoch, reports said Tuesday.

The 43-year-old and her husband were among six people held on suspicion of perverting the course of justice following dawn raids by officers investigating hacking at the now-closed newspaper, several media reports said.

Brooks was arrested for the first time last July on suspicion of phone hacking and bribing public officials, just three days after she resigned as head of the News of the World's publisher, Murdoch's News International.

She has always denied any wrongdoing.

Police confirmed the arrests of a 43-year-old woman and a 49-year-old man, both from Oxfordshire, west of London, adding that they were being questioned at separate police stations.

Brooks lives in Oxfordshire with her racehorse trainer husband Charlie Brooks, a close friend of Prime Minister David Cameron.

News International did not immediately make any comment on the arrests, nor did Brooks' personal spokesman.

Murdoch shut down the News of the World in July last year after evidence emerged of widespread phone hacking at the tabloid, but his remaining British newspapers continue to be dogged by allegations they covered up the practice.

Last month, documents emerged suggesting that News of the World executives actively sought from the end of November 2009 to delete emails which could be used in legal action against the tabloid.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said one woman and five men aged between 38 and 49 were arrested in co-ordinated dawn raids on Tuesday across the south of England by officers investigating phone hacking.

"All six -- five men and one woman -- were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice," it said.

A total of 22 people have been arrested under the hacking probe, while a further 23 have been held over the alleged bribery of public officials, including 11 current or former journalists at Murdoch's best-selling Sun daily.

Nobody has yet been charged in the two police investigations, although the News of the World's royal editor Clive Goodman and a private investigator were jailed for phone hacking following a separate police probe in 2006.

The arrest of Brooks and her husband will be embarrassing for the British prime minister, who has tried to play down his ties to the couple.

Cameron's relationship with them came into the spotlight earlier this month after it emerged that Cameron had ridden a retired police horse loaned to Brooks by Scotland Yard before he took office in May 2010.

Cameron and Charlie Brooks both attended the elite Eton school and the prime minister's constituency home is only a few miles away from the Brooks' house.

The prime minister, who left Tuesday for a visit to Washington, has also been drawn into the hacking scandal through Andy Coulson, another former News of the World editor who worked as his media chief until January 2011.

Coulson was arrested on allegations of phone hacking and bribery last year, although he denies any wrongdoing.

Agence France Presse / By

Posted at March 13, 2012, 3:44am