British police have interviewed a Guardian journalist over an alleged leak of information from the investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid, the newspaper said Wednesday.
The Guardian identified the reporter as Amelia Hill, one of several journalists at the paper who have been pursuing the phone hacking story.
Although neither London police nor the paper made the reason for Hill's interrogation clear, one of the detectives investigating the phone hacking case has recently been arrested on suspicion of "unauthorized disclosure of information." The officer has not been identified.
The Guardian didn't say whether the previous arrest was connected to Hill's questioning or comment on how she was alleged to have received her information. But it did warn that other reporters should take note of the case, arguing that "journalists would no doubt be concerned if the police sought to criminalize conversations between off-record sources and reporters."
Relations between the media and Britain's largest police force, known colloquially as Scotland Yard, have become increasingly tense following revelations that the police did little to investigate the activities of the now-defunct News of the World, whose reporters spent years systematically intercepting voicemails of high-profile people in a wide-ranging campaign of illegal espionage.
The Guardian has played an instrumental role in exposing both the scandal and embarrassing Scotland Yard, which stands accused of overlooking the allegations for fear of antagonizing Murdoch's powerful media empire. Allegations that reporters routinely bribed police have also dented the force's reputation.
Two top police officers have already resigned over the scandal and those leading the revived police investigation into phone hacking have promised to be more thorough in their work.
That investigation appeared to be making continued progress Wednesday, with police announcing the arrest of their 16th suspect in the case.
The Times of London reported that its deputy football editor Raoul Simons, 35, was the suspect arrested at his home at dawn Wednesday and later released on bail.
Simons had featured in an audio recording obtained and published last year by The New York Times in which he appeared to be instructed how to hack the voicemail of a football executive.
The recording was made before Simons moved to The Times, and related to a period when he worked at the capital's daily London Evening Standard newspaper. The Times said Simons is currently on extended leave.
Separately, lawmakers investigating the scandal released a statement saying that an Indian technology company had identified four additional occasions when News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp., had requested the deletion of emails held by the firm.
The company, HCL Technologies, had already told lawmakers of nine occasions when News International had asked them to delete large numbers of emails, although it has said it found nothing "abnormal or untoward" about the requests.
Keith Vaz, the chairman of one of the parliamentary committees investigating the scandal, said Wednesday that news of the requests "is concerning." He said that he and other lawmakers "will continue to investigate the issue of phone hacking and the removal of any information that could possibly point to the prevalence of phone hacking by those working in the organization."