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Sun journalist held ahead of showdown for Murdochs

British police arrested three people, including the royal editor of Rupert Murdoch's Sun tabloid, a source...

World

British police arrested three people, including the royal editor of Rupert Murdoch's Sun tabloid, a source familiar with the situation said, in an escalation of a long-running phone hacking scandal which reaches into Britain's political establishment.

Thursday's arrests and the fact they stemmed from information given to the police by Murdoch's company itself is likely to reignite tensions within the media group, just days before parliament gives its verdict on how the culture of illegality came about.

Next week Rupert Murdoch and son James will also appear before a judicial inquiry to answer questions over the conduct of the press, which will focus on the close ties between Murdoch, his executives and the political establishment.

James Murdoch will appear in court room 73 at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday while lawyers at the inquiry have cleared a day and a half to grill the 81-year-old Rupert on Wednesday and Thursday.

"This was always going to be an important six weeks in this affair, with the Murdochs and politicians going before the Leveson judicial inquiry, but it will be exacerbated by the arrests and the imminent committee report," said Steven Barnett, communications professor at the University of Westminster.

Police made the arrests one day after prosecutors confirmed they had started to examine the police case against four journalists and seven others to establish whether they should be charged with a range of offences including perverting the course of justice.

Press reports have speculated that one of those named in the files is Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of the News of the World and Sun tabloids and a close friend of both Murdochs and Prime Minister David Cameron.

Brooks has been arrested twice, once for corruption and intercepting communications, and more recently for perverting the course of justice, along with her husband, Charlie Brooks.

The three arrested on Thursday were detained at dawn and questioned over inappropriate payments made to police and public officials.

The source familiar with the situation said one of those was Duncan Larcombe, royal editor and a former defence correspondent at the Sun, Britain's biggest selling daily newspaper.

A spokeswoman for Murdoch's British newspaper arm News International confirmed that one of those arrested was a Sun journalist but declined to give further details.

Larcombe was previously a defence correspondent at the Sun and another person arrested on Thursday was described by police as a 42-year-old former member of the armed forces. A woman aged 38 has also been arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office.


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