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British private eye arrested in hacking probe: reports

world Updated: Dec 07, 2011 20:47 IST

British police probing phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World today arrested a private investigator who was previously jailed for his role in the scandal, reports said.

Police said a 41-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and perverting the course of justice, and the BBC and the partly Murdoch-owned Sky News identified him as Glenn Mulcaire.

The arrest is the 18th made by officers working on Operation Weeting, the investigation set up in January into the illegal hacking of mobile phone voicemails at the paper, which was closed down in July.

"On 7 December 2011 officers from Operation Weeting arrested a man in connection with phone hacking and perverting the course of justice," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

The man was arrested at 0700 GMT at an address in London and was being held in custody at a south London police station, it said.

"It would be inappropriate to discuss any further details at this time," the statement added.

A Scotland Yard spokesman refused to confirm the reports that the man was Mulcaire when contacted by AFP.

Mulcaire's London-based lawyers also declined to comment.

Mulcaire, a former footballer turned private detective, and the News of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman were jailed for six months in 2007 for hacking the voicemails of aides of Britain's royal family.

Goodman was re-arrested in July.

Rebekah Brooks, a former top executive in Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire, and Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor and Prime Minister David Cameron's former media chief, are among those previously arrested.

The Murdoch-owned News of the World was closed in July amid a storm of phone-hacking allegations, including that a private investigator had hacked the voicemail of a murdered teenage girl, Milly Dowler.

Last month Mulcaire denied claims made at a press ethics inquiry set up by the government in the wake of the scandal that he had deleted some of Dowler's voicemails, giving her parents false hope that she was alive.

Separately on Tuesday, Coulson launched a legal battle at the High Court in London against his former employer after it stopped paying his legal fees.