The CEO of Rupert Murdoch’s News International resigned on Friday morning and has now been arrested this Sunday morning by British police on charges of corruption and phone hacking. But will she have to testify before the House of Commons on Tuesday, as previously scheduled? That’s the question culture select committee chair John Whittingdale, who will lead the grilling (and whose prior relationship with high-ranking members of News International is under fire) is already asking, according to Sky News, not to mention observers like the New York Times’ Ravi Somayai, who tweeted that “Everyone I’ve spoken to since the news broke suggests #Brooks will use the arrest to avoid questions in Parliament,” since her answers could affect the police investigation. Similarly, the Times’ Don Van Natta tweeted: “Source says timing of Rebekah Brooks’ arrest ’helps her more than hurts her’ for Tuesday hearing. And, source adds, ‘Helps the Met, too.’” (Update: Parliamentary law blogger Sean Dilley says the arrest shouldn’t stop Brooks from appearing in the House of Commons, but it will affect the CMS Committee’s “ability to insist on uncomfortable answers, at least on the part of Rebekah Brooks.”)
The BBC’s Business Editor, Robert Peston, tweeted that Brooks was told on Friday that she would be arrested. (Update: Her spokesman has said she did not know; he’s also said that she’s taking legal advice about whether to appear before the House of Commons.) Brooks arrived at the police station today by appointment. The Metropolitan Police, of course, is itself under increasingly heavy fire for allegations of colluding with News International to cover up the hacking. Yesterday, Van Natta had an excellent Times story detailing how the Metropolitan Police kept six plastic bags containing the names of 4,000 public figures who may have been hacked gathering dust in an evidence room for four years. It was also revealed that Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson recently accepted an $18,000 holiday at a high-end British spa whose publicist was ex-News of the World deputy editor and ex-Met PR advisor Neil Wallis, who is a newly minted arrest himself. Ex-Labour Party Deputy Leader and noted wit John Prescott was quick on the draw here, tweeting “This arrest ‘by appointment’ of Coulson and Brooks sounds like booking a trip to….let’s say…a health spa!” Well, if nothing else, the website
hasrebekahbrooksbeenarrestedyet.com/ has finally been updated.