News International’s former legal chief Tom Crone is the latest tabloid executive to be arrested in connection with the phone-hacking scandal.
Crone, who was arrested at 6.45am this morning, is being held at a south London police station on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications contrary to Section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. The Met launched Operation Weeting into phone hacking last year.
Crone walked out of News International in July last year after 26 years with the publishing group (13 July 2011). He was group manager for all News International legal, with News of the World, The Sun,The Times and Sunday Times falling under his remit.
Following his departure Crone’s relationship with News International chairman Rupert Murdoch became increasingly fraught as officials sought to establish the extent of the phone-hacking scandal.
In 2009 Crone was summoned to a parliamentary select committee to answer questions about phone-hacking allegations.
At that meeting he told MPs: “I tasked myself with finding out what exactly had happened; what was known, who knew what other documents there might be.
“At no stage during [….] our investigation did any evidence arise that the problem of accessing by our reporters, or complicity of accessing by our reporters, went beyond the [royal reporter Clive] Goodman/[private investigator Glenn] Mulcaire situation.”
However, in April this year Murdoch raised questions about Crone’s role when he told Lord Justice Leveson he had been a “victim” of the “culture of cover up” at the now-defunct newspaper, which he suggested was down to a “clever lawyer and drinking pal of the journalists”.
In a statement rebutting the allegations, Crone said: “Since Rupert Murdoch’s evidence today about a lawyer who had been on the News of the World for many years can only refer to me, I am issuing the following statement.
“His assertion that I “took charge of a cover-up” in relation to phone-hacking is a shameful lie” (26 April 2012).