Public face of NOTW is held over phone hacking


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The Independent Online

One of the longest-serving senior executives in the recent history of the News of the World was arrested yesterday by police investigating the tabloid for phone hacking and illicit payments to police officers. Stuart Kuttner, 71, had worked for the newspaper for nearly 30 years and was responsible for managing its finances. He is the 11th person to be arrested in relation to the phone-hacking scandal and was held after arriving with his solicitor for an appointment at a London police station.

He is understood to have been questioned by officers from the Operation Weeting team, investigating phone hacking, and those from Operation Elveden, which is probing the unlawful payment of police officers. It is believed he has been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, a breach of the Criminal Law Act 1977, and on suspicion of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

As the NOTW's managing editor, Mr Kuttner is believed to have signed off the £100,000-a-year "research and information services" contract for Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator convicted of phone hacking in 2007. News International would not comment on the arrest except to say that it "continues to co-operate fully with the Metropolitan Police".

The development follows the arrests of the former News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, the former NOTW editor, Andy Coulson, the paper's former assistant editor, Ian Edmondson, the senior journalists James Weatherup and Neville Thurlbeck, the former royal editor Clive Goodman and the freelance reporter Terenia Taras.

Mr Kuttner, according to one former colleague yesterday, saw himself as "the keeper of the flame" at the NOTW, the newspaper to which he dedicated himself for three decades. When he finally retired from the paper two years ago, the then-editor Colin Myler said: "His DNA is absolutely integrated into the newspaper, which he has represented across the media with vigour."

He publicly defended the newspaper's publication of secretly recorded comments made by the Countess of Wessex and claimed that the tabloid's offer of £150,000 for information about the murder of the Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman was part of its "broad public duty". He left the NOTW in 2009 due to his age and bad health.

The light went out altogether at the NOTW last month. The keeper of the flame was gone by then – time will tell if his fingers were burned.