Guardian journalist questioned over leaks from police
Published 08/09/2011 | 05:00
A JOURNALIST at 'The Guardian' has been questioned under caution by police investigating the alleged leaking of information from Scotland Yard's phone-hacking inquiry.
Amelia Hill, the newspaper's special investigations correspondent, was formally interviewed and warned that the information provided could be used as evidence in court.
'The Guardian' said the move raised concerns that police were seeking to criminalise the work of reporters.
The development came as it emerged that Andy Coulson, the former Downing Street communications chief, was refusing to give further evidence to the Commons committee investigating phone hacking because of "concerns" it would conflict with the Yard's expanding investigations.
DLA Piper, the law firm representing Mr Coulson, has written to the media select committee saying it was concerned about "parallel inquiries and investigations and the publicity generated by them".
Ms Hill was contacted by police after the arrest of a 51-year-old detective on Operation Weeting, the Yard's investigation into illegal voicemail interception at the 'News of the World', on suspicion of "unauthorised disclosures" about the progress of the sensitive inquiry.
The officer was arrested last month by his own force, reportedly after suspicions were aroused by the timing of the publication of a story about the arrest of James Desborough, the NOTW's US editor, by Ms Hill, who has broken a number of stories about the hacking scandal since April this year.
According to the paper's own records, a story about the arrest appeared on 'The Guardian' website at 10.29am on August 18 -- one minute before Mr Desborough's 10.30am appointment to face questioning at a south London police station.
Scotland Yard did not issue a press release about the arrest until 11.01am.
In a statement, 'The Guardian' said: "We can confirm Amelia Hill has been questioned in connection with an investigation into alleged leaks. On a broader point, journalists would no doubt be concerned if the police sought to criminalise conversations between off-record sources and reporters."
The disclosure came as Weeting detectives arrested a 35-year-old man yesterday at his north London home on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemails.
The man, who is the 16th person arrested by the phone-hacking inquiry, was reported to be Raoul Simons. He was made deputy football editor of 'The Times' in 2009 and had also worked previously at the London 'Evening Standard'. (© Independent News Service)