Hacking Scandal: Was Rebekah Brooks Arrested to Shut Her Up?

With the issuing of a very rare Sunday arrest appointment, Rebekah Brooks, News International’s recently resigned CEO, was taken into custody by the Metropolitan Police Service only two days before she was to appear before the Culture Select Committee of the British government to give testimony regarding the News of the World Hacking scandal.

The Metropolitan Police Service released the following statement:

“The MPS (Metropolitan police service) has this afternoon, Sunday 17 July, arrested a female in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking.

“At approximately 12.00 a 43-year-old woman was arrested by appointment at a London police station by officers from Operation Weeting (the phone hacking investigation) together with officers from Operation Elveden ( the bribing of police officers investigation). She is currently in custody.

“She was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, contrary to Section1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977 and on suspicion of corruption allegations contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

Brooks was not informed of the potential of her arrest and was not expecting it when she voluntarily attended the scheduled appointment with the MPS.  Having been CEO of News International during the time of the alleged wide spread systematic hacking, Brooks promised to be a very valuable resource.

As a close colleague of Rupert Murdoch’s, and having close ties to current British Prime Minister David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks was a potential source for a wealth of information.  Brooks had agreed to appear before the Culture Select Committee in charge of investigating the hacking scandal this coming Tuesday, July 19.  Her participation in these hearings is now highly unlikely.  Brook’s lawyers have not given a definite answer about her attendance on Tuesday, but her participation must now be reconsidered in light of her arrest and the charges levied against her.

By arresting Brooks,  a potentially cooperative witness has been turned into a definite adversary  who is forced to consider the existing charges against her before answering any questions or divulging any information.  From an investigative point of view, Rebekah Brooks, as a potential source of information and disclosure, has been effectively silenced.  Her lawyers will now be in charge of all communication and defending Brooks against these charges will be their priority over any public investigation.

Brook’s arrest is a very fortunate turn of events for Rupert Murdoch and any politicians that have climbed between the sheets with him.  After a week of turmoil and explosive leaks of information, a modicum of control has now been reestablished by the bruised and bleeding Murdoch media empire as well as any complicit law enforcement officers and politicians.

At first blush, this development seems to be just another nail in the coffin of the Murdoch empire, but this isn’t Rupert’s first rodeo.  Damage control and media spin are his bread and butter, literally.  He is no more a virgin to scandal than the politicians and law enforcement officers that find themselves in a compromised position with him.

Murdoch and his empire are going to take a hit, and likely a big one, but how much damage, and to how many people, are still factors that can be negotiated.  Brooks getting arrested seems like a step in the right direction, but, perhaps, rather than taking this information at face value, we should ask ourselves a couple questions.  Will Brooks be a more, or less cooperative witness now that she has been arrested?   Will Brooks be allowed by her lawyers to provide full disclosure if there is a chance at her incriminating herself?  Were the police over-excited by such a stunning case that it caused a premature incarceration, or is the stifling of information as self-serving for them as it is for Rupert Murdoch?

It may be nice to see anyone involved in this scandal behind bars, but its important to ask who is really being served by this surprise arrest only two days before a scheduled public testimony.  Is justice being served, or are we all being sucked into a drama that will ensure it isn’t?


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