6 UK journalists arrested in phone-hacking probe

Arrests of six former or current journalists are part of a new line of inquiry into the British press phone-hacking scandal.

LONDON —  British police investigating the hacking of mobile phones to generate stories at Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid made six more arrests of journalists or former journalists Wednesday.

The phone hacking in the new arrests was believed to have taken place in 2005 and 2006, the police said. Five suspects were arrested and taken in for questioning in London and one in Cheshire in northern England.

Operation Weeting was set up to investigate the allegation that journalists and private detectives working for the News of the World tabloid, owned by News Corp.'s British arm News International, repeatedly hacked into mobile phones.

Revelations that the hacking extended from celebrities and politicians to crime victims, including murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, caused public outrage.

The scandal escalated into a wider crisis embroiling the top echelons of the British political establishment, media and police, and led to Murdoch's closing down the News of the World in July 2011.

The latest arrests involve a suspected conspiracy separate from the one under which charges already have been made.

Earlier this month, a senior police officer was jailed after she was found guilty of offering to sell details about the phone-hacking inquiry to the tabloid, the first person to be convicted as part of the investigation.

Prime Minister David Cameron's former media chief, Andy Coulson, who was editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007, and Rebekah Brooks, the former boss of News International and a confidante of Murdoch's, are among those charged with criminal offenses.

Last week, News International agreed to settle most outstanding civil lawsuits brought against it by phone-hacking victims, including actor Hugh Grant and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.

The duchess, divorced from Prince Andrew in 1992, and her tumultuous personal life have long been staples of British tabloid reporting.

Her lawyers said the hacking dated back to 2000. News Corp. apologized and agreed Friday to a "significant" but undisclosed settlement.

News Corp. has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and legal fees linked to the scandal.

Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien

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