Phone hacking: News of the World Hollywood reporter is arrested

The Guardian reports:

James Desborough, an award-winning reporter at the former News of the World newspaper, has been arrested by officers investigating the phone-hacking scandal.

Desborough was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, contrary to section 1 (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 after arriving at a south London police station on Thursday morning at 10.30am. He had arrived at the station by appointment for questioning about criminal activities at the paper.

The allegations are believed to relate to events prior to Desborough being promoted to be the newspaper’s Los Angeles-based US editor in April 2009.

He was given the job less than a month after winning the British Press Award for showbusiness reporter of the year.

His move to the US makes his arrest, the 13th made by Operation Weeting, particularly significant. If Desborough was involved in hacking while in Britain, as police appear to believe he was, it raises the question of whether he practised those techniques in the US – and if so, whether he was the first and only News of the World journalist in the US to do so.

Meanwhile, News Corp shareholders have been warned about the cost of phone hacking.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has warned that it is “not able to predict the ultimate outcome or cost” of the phone-hacking scandal, admitting it could “impair” its ability to conduct its business.

In its annual report filed on Wednesday, News Corp said its reputation could be damaged by the crisis that has engulfed the company and led to the closure of the News of the World.

The report also revealed that Freud Communications, the public relations firm run by Matthew Freud, Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law, was paid $202,000 (£122,000) by News Corp in the financial year ended 30 June 2011 for “press and publicity activities”.

News Corp, which is the subject of a wide-ranging FBI investigation, said it was “not able to predict the ultimate outcome or cost” of the police investigations and civil actions related to alleged unlawful activity.

“UK and US regulators and governmental authorities are conducting investigations after allegations of phone hacking and inappropriate payments to police at our former publication, News of the World, and other related matters, including investigations into whether similar conduct may have occurred at the company’s subsidiaries outside of the UK,” said News Corp in its report.

“The company is co-operating fully with these investigations. It is possible that these proceedings could damage our reputation and might impair our ability to conduct our business.”

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