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Former NOTW chief reporter held over 'witness intimidation'


The former chief reporter of the News of the World was arrested yesterday by police investigating the phone-hacking scandal on suspicion of intimidating a witness.

Neville Thurlbeck, 51, who was also news editor on the defunct Sunday tabloid, was detained by appointment at a central London police station by officers from Operation Weeting a day after his former editor, Rebekah Brooks, was arrested with five others on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Yesterday's arrest came as James Murdoch used a letter to the House of Commons' media select committee to distance himself once more from any wrongdoing inside News International (NI). He blamed two former trusted lieutenants, Colin Myler and Tom Crone, claiming there were "inconsistencies" in their evidence to MPs.

Mr Thurlbeck, pictured, has been a central figure in the unfolding phone-hacking saga since being named in the so-called "for Neville" email. This showed voicemail interception went beyond a single "rogue" reporter at the NOTW. He was arrested last year on suspicion of conspiring to hack phones and eavesdropping voicemail messages.

Mr Murdoch has sought to influence the parliamentary report into phone hacking, which is expected to be published before the Easter recess, by telling the committee that he did not mislead them.