Bloomberg News

News Corp. Police Bribery Probe Yields New Arrest in Britain

December 15, 2011

(Updates with woman being bailed in second paragraph.)

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- London police arrested a 37-year-old woman today as part of their investigation of bribes being paid to officers to get scoops for News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid.

The unidentified woman was arrested at a home in Surrey, England, taken to a station in London and later released on bail, the Metropolitan Police said today in a statement. It’s the seventh arrest in the probe, which is running parallel to investigations of phone hacking and computer hacking at the tabloid.

The arrested woman is Lucy Panton, a former crime editor for the News of the World, according to News Corp.’s Sky News cable channel. Another News Corp. employee, 48-year-old Sun newspaper reporter Jamie Pyatt, was arrested last month as part of the probe, called Operation Elveden.

The five-year-old phone-hacking scandal prompted News Corp. to close the News of the World in July and drop its 7.8 billion- pound ($12.1 billion) bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. Allegations of police bribery and computer hacking triggered separate probes.

Daisy Dunlop, a spokeswoman for News Corp.’s News International publishing unit in the U.K., declined to comment.

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News International who was arrested in July, told lawmakers at a 2003 hearing that “we have paid the police for information in the past.” Speaking to lawmakers this year, Brooks said her 2003 comment was referring to a “wide-held belief, not a widespread practice.”

‘Serious Criminal Offenses’

The bribery investigation began after Ken Macdonald, a lawyer for News Corp.’s board and the former U.K. Director of Public Prosecutions, provided police on June 20 with what he described as “evidence of serious criminal offenses.”

Other arrests in the police corruption probe include Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s former royal reporter, who was jailed for phone-hacking in 2007, and former editor Andy Coulson, who resigned this year as press chief for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron as the scandal unfolded. They are all free on bail.

--Editors: Anthony Aarons, Simon Thiel

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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