Ex-British Murdoch Executive Rebekah Brooks Arrested

The Murdoch protégé faces charges of corruption and phone hacking.

ByABC News
July 17, 2011, 11:41 AM

July 17, 2011 — -- Rupert Murdoch's protégé Rebekah Brooks, who previously ran his British tabloids was arrested today in London in connection with the phone hacking scandal, which also led to the resignation today of London's senior police official.

Brooks' arrest comes as she "voluntarily attended a London police station to assist with their ongoing investigation," according to a statement released on her behalf, The Associated Press reported.

Authorities are questioning Brooks on suspicion of conspiring phone hacking and on suspicion of corruption.

Brooks spokesman David Wilson told the AP that Brooks' meeting with the police was arranged but she was "not aware she was going to be arrested."

"Obviously this complicates matter greatly," Wilson told the AP. "Her legal team will have to have discussions with the committee to see whether it would still be appropriate for her to attend."

Brooks, who at first refused to resign over the scandal, finally stepped down Friday from her post as head of Murdoch's British newspaper division, News International.

The broad reach of the scandal became even more evident today, when Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson announced his resignation.

"I have taken this decision as a consequence of the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to the Met's links with News International at a senior level and in particular in relation to Mr. Neil Wallis," Stephenson said. Wallis, who was editor of News of the World until 2009, was recently arrested as part of the scandal.

"Let me state clearly, I and the people who know me know that my integrity is completely intact. I may wish we had done some things differently, but I will not lose sleep over my personal integrity," he added.

Critical Time for Murdoch

Brooks' arrest and Stephenson's resignation come at a critical time for Murdoch.

On Tuesday, British lawmakers are expected to grill the media baron when he testifies in front of Parliament.

Each passing day has brought new revelation in this scandal, and the shockwaves are quickly spreading across Murdoch's sprawling empire, which includes television and newspaper properties spanning the globe, and a key stake in the United States.

In turn, Murdoch has had to do some unprecedented damage control.

"I was appalled to find out what had happened and I apologized and I have nothing further to say," said Murdoch.

On Friday, Murdoch apologized to the family of Milly Dowler, a teen murdered in 2002.

Earlier this month, it was revealed the girl's voicemail had been allegedly hacked and messages deleted by a reporter from one of Murdoch's papers.

After the meeting, the Dowler family emerged with their lawyer, who described Murdoch's tone as humble.

"Yes he did apologize. He apologized many times. I don't think somebody could have held their head in their hands and said sorry so many times," said Mark Lewis, the Dowler family's lawyer.

On Saturday, there were more apologies.

"The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself. We are sorry," according to an ad signed by Murdoch.

The ad appeared in every London newspaper.

Last Sunday, Murdoch shut down his profitable tabloid, "The News of the World," mired in allegations of criminal activity.

The scandal has even crossed the Atlantic.

Les Hinton, the head of the company that operates the Wall Street Journal, resigned Friday. He was in charge in London when much of the alleged criminal activity took place.

There is also a connection to 9/11: allegations that Murdoch's reporters tried to tap the phones of 9/11 victims in search of yet more sensational headlines.

"Many, many innocent men, women, and children their private tears bought and sold by News International for commercial gain," said Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister.

No longer intimidated by Murdoch, British politicians are putting his empire under the microscope.

This week, the government established a judicial inquiry to look at criminal activity, media ethics, and media ownership.

ABC News' Jeffrey Kofman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.