More pressure for PM

Andy Coulson and ex-royal reporter Clive Goodman arrested

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and one of his former top reporters were questioned about alleged corruption today after a dramatic double arrest by Scotland Yard.

Mr Coulson, the ex-Downing Street communications chief, was also questioned over phone hacking during his time at the paper.

Police sources later confirmed that former royal editor Clive Goodman - who was jailed in January 2007 over the scandal - had been rearrested in connection with alleged payments to police.

Mr Coulson, 43, and Mr Goodman, 53, were held for questioning at different police stations in south London.

The former editor had been expected to be arrested after an appointment at a station but Mr Goodman - who currently works for the Daily Star Sunday - was held after a dawn swoop by officers at his home in Surrey.

Detectives are searching both Mr Coulson's address in Forest Hill, south London, and Mr Goodman's property.

Officers investigating Operation Elveden - the inquiry into payments to police by the News of the World - and Operation Weeting, the long-running hacking investigation, are questioning the pair.

Referring to Goodman's arrest, a Scotland Yard statement said: "At 6.11am officers from the MPS' Operation Weeting together with officers from Operation Elveden arrested a man on suspicion of corruption allegations in contravention of Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

"The man, aged 53, was arrested at a residential address in Surrey. A search is ongoing at this address."

Meanwhile News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks addressed News of the World staff this afternoon, saying that she was staying on at News International "because she is a conductor for it all", former News of the World journalist Sophy Ridge claimed.

Ms Brooks said the decision to close the News of the World was taken because there could be another "two years plus" of trouble, Ms Ridge wrote on Twitter.

The Sky News political correspondent tweeted: "Rebekah Brooks said that advertisers said the brand was 'toxic', I'm hearing, and the decision 'was not done lightly'."

Ms Ridge also wrote that Ms Brooks said she was "trying to find them jobs where possible across News International and News Corp".

Ms Brooks "apologised to staff for 'operational issues' ie email access", Ms Ridge added.

And in a further development the Daily Star Sunday said detectives spent two hours at its offices in central London and took away a disc containing a record of all Mr Goodman's computer activity.

The paper stressed that there was "no suggestion whatsoever" that the journalist acted improperly during his occasional freelance shifts at the tabloid.

The Daily Star Sunday said in a statement: "Scotland Yard today sought the help of the Daily Star Sunday as they investigated allegations of police corruption involving the News of the World and its former royal editor Clive Goodman.

"They confirmed they were similarly carrying out these routine checks at all places where Mr Goodman has worked as a freelance since he left the News of the World.

"Officers formally requested any and all computer material that Goodman had been involved with during his occasional shifts as a freelance reporter at the paper over the last year to cross-check it with his activities in his News of the World role.

"They were particularly interested to check Mr Goodman's current email contacts to cross-match them with those from his time at the News of the World.

"There was no suggestion whatsoever that Mr Goodman had acted improperly during his occasional shifts at the Daily Star Sunday, and we can confirm that no payments of any kind were ever made by the newspaper to Clive Goodman contacts.

"After requesting the Daily Star Sunday's help, police were invited to visit the newspaper's offices where they were provided with a copy of all Mr Goodman's computer activity.

"The three officers were similarly invited to examine any desk where Mr Goodman may have sat during shifts. They left after approximately two hours with a disc of Mr Goodman's computer activity.

"For the record, the Daily Star Sunday has never carried, and has never been accused of carrying, any story that might have stemmed from phone hacking."

The moves by Scotland Yard pile further pressure on the Prime Minister, who gave Mr Coulson a job at No 10 despite his association with the scandal.

Mr Coulson had been widely expected to face police action today but few had predicted the decision to rearrest Mr Goodman, who was jailed in 2007.

It is the latest bombshell in a catastrophic week for News International chiefs, who announced they were shutting the Sunday tabloid because it had betrayed its readers' trust.

Mr Goodman was arrested in August 2006 along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire over allegations that they hacked into the mobile phones of members of the royal household.

Five months later the royal reporter was jailed for four months and Mulcaire for six months after they admitted intercepting voicemail messages, including some left by Prince William, now the Duke of Cambridge.

The Old Bailey heard the pair tapped into more than 600 messages on the phones of royal family aides.

Mr Coulson responded by resigning as News of the World editor, saying he "deeply regretted" what happened and took "ultimate responsibility" for it.

Shockwaves from the hacking revelations and police payment allegations prompted David Cameron to promise today he would "get to the bottom" of the scandal.

Mr Coulson was arrested at 10.30am on suspicion of "conspiring to intercept communications" and "corruption allegations contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906".

As Mr Coulson was questioned by detectives, Mr Cameron revealed he had grown close to his former adviser and built up a friendship.

The Prime Minister said they discussed the hacking allegations while he was employed but he never had reason to doubt "the assurances he had given me and I accepted".

Of their contact since Mr Coulson's January resignation, he added: "I have spoken to him, I have seen him, not recently and not frequently, but when you work with someone for four years as I did, and you work closely, you do build a friendship and I became friends with him. He became a friend and is a friend."

Plain-clothed officers arrived at Mr Coulson's detached home in Forest Hill, south London, shortly before lunchtime carrying evidence bags.

One shouted "no comment" to reporters before informing them "nobody crosses this line" as he walked across the driveway.

Mr Coulson has been dogged by allegations of phone hacking on his watch for years, forcing him to give up his positions as News of the World editor and then as the Conservatives' top spin doctor.

Confirmation of the arrests prompted speculation that more executives from one of Britain's biggest newspaper publishers will face police action in the coming days.

Mr Cameron said he took responsibility for Mr Coulson's hiring by the Government but insisted he had commissioned a firm to carry out a background check beforehand.

Mr Coulson resigned from the No 10 post in January, saying the drip-drip of claims about illegal eavesdropping under his editorship was making his job impossible.

The Prime Minister said: "I made the decision, there had been a police investigation, someone had been sent to prison, this editor had resigned, he said he didn't know what was happening on his watch but he resigned when he found out, and I thought it was right to give that individual a second chance."

Mr Cameron said he and Mr Coulson spoke before Christmas about him leaving Downing Street.

"It wasn't in the light of any specific thing, it was a sense that the second chance wasn't working," he said.

The Prime Minister outlined sweeping changes to the way newspapers are regulated in the wake of the agenda-setting tabloid being sacrificed by James Murdoch, chairman of News International.

The decision was announced after advertisers deserted in droves over claims that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, bereaved military families and relatives of 7/7 bombing victims were targeted by hackers working for the tabloid.

Amid widespread public anger, police chiefs revealed that 4,000 people might have fallen victim and that evidence indicated journalists had paid officers.

Labour leader Ed Miliband refuted claims by former Conservative deputy party chairman Lord Ashcroft that his own director of communications, Tom Baldwin, had used private investigators while he was a journalist at The Times.

Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme: "Michael Ashcroft, the large Conservative party donor, has been putting it around that somehow Tom Baldwin hired a private investigator illegally to look into him.

"Tom Baldwin absolutely denies that."

Mr Miliband claimed David Cameron's aides had been handed a wealth of information warning them about practices Mr Coulson had been involved in while editor of the News of the World.

He added: "If he (the Prime Minister) wants to really lead change in the Press in this country he's got to come clean and he has got to apologise for hiring somebody who had resigned as editor of the News of the World over phone hacking."

He added: "As leader of the Labour party I take responsibility for the fact that we should have been more outspoken about phone hacking earlier on, we should have been more willing to speak out without fear or favour about some of the actions of News International."

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, told World at One he would be writing to the Prime Minister today with recommendations about what the inquiries should look at.

He said the remit should be "as wide as possible" and hone in on where witnesses to the committee's previous investigations into the issue had been "less than open and transparent".

Andy Coulson was released from police custody earlier this evening.

The ex-Tory spin doctor left Lewisham police station in south east London amid a media scrum saying: "There is an awful lot I would like to say, but I can't at this time."

He was released on police bail until October. Former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman was also also released and bailed until October.

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit