LOS ANGELES — Another former News of the World editor has been arrested in the phone-hacking debacle that is rocking News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
James Desborough was arrested for alleged crimes that occurred prior to his move to Hollywood in 2009. The arrest nonetheless could prompt further investigation into the practices of News of the World and other tabloid journalists in the U.S.
At the same time, Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the center of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, filed a lawsuit Thursday against News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of the News International division that operated the London tabloid.
Britain’s phone-hacking scandal — in which journalists allegedly broke into the voicemail messages of the royals, celebrities, athletes and even crime victims — prompted News Corp. to close the 168-year-old News of the World in July. The damaging disclosures also have resulted in high-level resignations of high-ranking government and police officials and within the media conglomerate.
Desborough, 38, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of intercepting phone communications when he arrived in London for police questioning, according to Britain’s newspaper the Guardian. His arrest is the 13th made in connection with the ongoing investigation.
The journalist made his reputation delivering scoops about the lives of the rich and famous, including chronicling the messy divorce of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, who has claimed her voice mails were hacked by a reporter from News of the World rival the Mirror.
Desborough is an award-winning celebrity journalist who had once received the British Press Award for show business reporter of the year. During his stint in Los Angeles, he reported on high-profile show business developments such as the 2009 death of pop star Michael Jackson.
The arrest comes as Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2007 for intercepting voicemail messages while he worked for News of the World, filed a breach of contract suit against News Group Newspapers, the company confirmed.
“The claim will be vigorously contested,” a News International spokeswoman said.
A person with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press that the suit pertained to Mulcaire’s legal costs.
The payments became an issue last month when members of the British Parliament questioned News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch and his son James, over why the company continued to pay the legal fees of the private investigator. News Corp. moved to immediately terminate the payments.