Paper's 'Cabinet Office mole' arrested

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The Sunday Times is facing a police investigation following the arrest of a young woman, allegedly involved in leaking documents to the paper, while she was working as an agency temp in Whitehall.

The Sunday Times is facing a police investigation following the arrest of a young woman, allegedly involved in leaking documents to the paper, while she was working as an agency temp in Whitehall.

The 23-year-old, reportedly called Claire Newell, was arrested at the Cabinet Office in September. It is understood she was questioned in relation to the activity of a mole who had allegedly been providing official papers to The Sunday Times for the past 15 months. The woman was not charged but has been bailed to return to a central London police station in November.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said she could not confirm the woman's name but said: "At around 12.15 on 27 September, we arrested a 23-year-old woman at the Cabinet Office on suspicion of theft of documents."

Speaking at the family home in Flackwell Heath, near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Ms Newell's mother, Elaine, told The Guardian that her daughter had been arrested but that she did not know where she was.

Ms Newell was supplied to the Cabinet Office's human resources section by Josephine Sammons, an employment agency based in the City of London. An inquiry was launched on the orders of Tony Blair after the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday paper carried a series of stories based on leaked documents detailing splits in the Cabinet over matters ranging from the introduction of ID cards to US post-war strategy. Many of the leaked stories were credited either to the paper's political editor, David Cracknell, or to a reporter, David Leppard.

In August 2003, at the height of the mole's activities, Ms Newell's joint byline appeared three times in the paper on stories about police recruitment, education and television ads.

It is alleged she also worked as a journalist for the paper in summer last year after completing a post-graduate journalism course at the London College of Communications.

Her arrest came shortly after The Sunday Times printed details of a 10-page letter discussing an attempt by top civil servants to award themselves large pay rises.

Special Branch investigations are expected to focus on any financial relationship between Ms Newell and the paper.

Richard Caseby, managing editor at The Sunday Times, said that the paper had nothing to say about the allegations. He said: "We never discuss the identity of any source."

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