Freelance reporter held in phone-hacking investigation

Her boyfriend on the NOTW signed a £105,000 contract with the private detective later jailed for illegal hacking
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The Independent Online

A freelance journalist and former girlfriend of a senior News of the World executive became the fourth person to be arrested in connection with the phone hacking scandal yesterday.

Terenia Taras, 39, was arrested at her Yorkshire home by detectives from the 45-strong Operation Weeting, the Scotland Yard investigation into allegations of phone hacking at the Sunday newspaper. She was held on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemails. Officers, who arrived at 6.55am, also searched her home in north Leeds.

Ms Taras is understood to have worked on the NOTW as a casual reporter for about a year in 2000 and 2001 and then as an occasional freelance contributor, writing 36 articles for the title between 2000 and about 2006. She also wrote for other national newspapers, including the Daily Mail and the Sunday Mirror, which carried her most recent bylined article in 2007.

The Yard declined to identify the arrested woman, who was taken to a police station in West Yorkshire for questioning. She was released on police bail after seven hours in detention and told to return in October.

The Metropolitan Police said: "The woman was arrested at a residential address in West Yorkshire on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications. The Operation Weeting team is conducting the new investigation into phone-hacking. It would be inappropriate to discuss any further details regarding this case at this time."

Ms Taras is the first person to be arrested by the Weeting team who is not a current or former full-time member of the NOTW staff. The paper's chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, and the former assistant news editor Ian Edmondson were arrested in April at their London homes, and then released on police bail. Another senior journalist, James Weatherup, who was a news editor on the paper, was also arrested and questioned that month.

Weeting has been investigating alleged links between staff at the Sunday tabloid, which is Britain's best-selling newspaper, and Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective who was jailed in 2007 for eavesdropping on the voicemails of public figures on its behalf.

The High Court in London heard claims this week that journalists at the NOTW hacked into phones themselves after being supplied with information such as voicemail PINs by Mulcaire.

Ms Taras had been in a relationship with Greg Miskiw, a former assistant editor at the NOTW and head of the paper's Manchester office until he left in 2005. It is understood the couple split up years ago and are no longer close.

Mr Miskiw signed a £105,000-a-year contract with Mulcaire for "research and information services" and in February 2005 signed a separate £7,000 contract with the private detective for a story about the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, Gordon Taylor. The NOTW later paid Mr Taylor an estimated £700,000 in damages and legal fees after his voicemails were hacked by Mulcaire.

It is understood officers from Operation Weeting want to talk to Mr Miskiw, who is thought to be living in the United States.

In a statement, News International, the NOTW owner, said: "This morning's events did not relate to a current employee or a former full-time member of staff of the News of the World. We have been co-operating fully with the police inquiry since our voluntary disclosure of evidence reopened the police investigation. Since then we have been determined to deal with these issues both on the criminal and civil side."

This week, News International announced it had settled a breach of privacy claim with the football pundit Andy Gray by paying him £20,000 in damages and his legal fees. Mr Gray's complaint against the NOTW was among five test cases due to go before the High Court in January.

The newspaper has already paid £100,000 in damages to the actress Sienna Miller, and offered an "unreserved apology" for a campaign of harassment through hacking which led to the publication of 11 articles about her relationship with her former fiancé, Jude Law.