Rebekah Brooks, a top News Corp. executive who resigned on Friday in the company’s phone hacking scandal, was arrested by Scotland Yard on Sunday, the latest ominous turn in a scandal that has engulfed the media behemoth in the past two weeks.
Brooks, until Friday the chief of News International, a division of News Corp. responsible for the tabloid News of the World, was taken into custody on charges of conspiring to intercept communications and corruption allegations.
She was editor of News of the World from 2000 to 2003 when bribes were allegedly made to police officers for news tips. She then rose to become chief executive at News International, the subsidiary that oversaw the tabloid.
Her arrest follows that of Andy Coulson, her predecessor at News of the World.
Brooks resigned the company on Friday, followed a few hours later by Les Hinton, another former News International executive and publisher of The Wall Street Journal. The resignation of Hinton was the first sign that the scandal had tentacles that spread to News Corp. properties in the United States.
Also read: News Corp. Execs Tumble as Scandal Widens
The scandal shows no sign of subsiding, despite the resignations of the executives and the decision to shut the popular tabloid down in the wake of evidence that hacking into the voice mails of news targets – including a young murder victim – was a widespread practice.
The arrest of Brooks, a close confidante of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, moved the eye of the scandal closer to the top executive himself. Brooks is also a close friend of British Prime Minister David Cameron, part of a web of close connections between News Corp. and the British power structure.
Those relationships have prompted public calls for investigation in the U.K.
Murdoch and his son James, along with Brooks, are scheduled to appear in Parliament on Tuesday to answer questions about the scandal. It is now unclear whether she will appear. British reports said her lawyers are in discussion with the culture, media and sport select committee about whether she should attend.
Observers in the United Kingdom are now speculating whether James Murdoch, the CEO's 38-year-old son who oversees News Corp.'s British interests, is next to come under official scrutiny.
Wrote Matt Wells, a former editor of Media Guardian:
"It must surely mean that the police investigation is edging closer to James Murdoch, who has been head of all News Corporation's businesses in Europe and Asia since 2007. He personally approved payments to civil litigants against the News of the World in settlement of their cases – deals that involved gagging clauses that appears to have prevented them discussing potential criminal activity in public."
Others, including one member of Parliament, wondered whether the arrest might somehow have been timed to keep Brooks from answering questions in Parliament that might embarrass the police.
The scandal has led News Corp. to abandon a bid to seek full ownership of the BSkyB satellite network.