Ian Burrell: Veteran scoop-getter is used to dishing the dirt

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The veteran News of the World (NOTW) journalist James Weatherup, according to his entry on the business networking site LinkedIn, specialises in "Crisis Management". News International could do with such an expert.

Mr Weatherup, though, was otherwise disposed yesterday, helping Scotland Yard with its inquiries after officers from Operation Weeting took him into custody for questioning.

Weatherup, 55, is the third former or current senior member of NOTW staff to have been arrested during this investigation. All three worked for Andy Coulson, the former NOTW editor, who went on to work at Downing Street as David Cameron's director of communications.

An old hand in red-top reporting, Weatherup arrived at the paper in 1987. He thought of himself as a scoop getter, though his style was not designed to win Pulitzer prizes. A typical Weatherup exclusive was his heavily punned 2006 exposé of cricketer Shane Warne's "three-hour spell at the crease" with "two wicked maidens".

He left NOTW in 1999 to join the Sunday People under editor Neil Wallis. Mr Wallis was appointed as Coulson's deputy editor at the NOTW in 2003 and, later that year, Weatherup followed him back to his old paper. He lasted until 2005 when Ian Edmondson, a more aggressive journalist who was also recruited from the People, was given the key job.

Three years ago, Weatherup appeared as a witness at the Old Bailey for a Royal Family blackmail trial.

During those few years away from News International's base in Wapping, east London, Weatherup was also employed by the Sunday Mirror where he worked on a number of investigations with Dan Evans, who is also now a colleague at the NOTW but has been suspended by News International following allegations of phone hacking by the interior designer Kelly Hoppen.

Last month the NOTW sent Weatherup to Libya where he reported on the front page that "Mad Dog Colonel Gaddafi" faced being "Blown to Brits!" Mr Weatherup has been released on bail. His work computer remains in the hands of police.

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