James Murdoch Arrested ... or Not, Oops!

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BSkyB Chairman James Murdoch, who is also head of News Corp in Europe and Asia, rehearses for his James MacTaggert Memorial lecture as part of the Media Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland  August 28, 2009. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN MEDIA SOCIETY BUSINESS)
Still free. (David Moir/Reuters) Photo: ? David Moir / Reuters

Late yesterday night in England, the nearly 12,000 followers of Sky News' business Twitter feed were greeted with a major news scoop.

BREAKING: James Murdoch arrested over phone-hacking claims. Questioned at Paddington Green police station at 10pm.

Retweeting passed the news around pretty fast, but just 30 minutes after the tweet went up — it has since been deleted — Sky News reporters were already questioning its veracity, reaching out to the Metropolitan Police who confirmed that in fact no arrest had been made of the once-upon-a-time News Corp. scion. (A website straightforwardly called "Has James Murdoch Been Arrested Yet?" still has a giant red "No!" emblazoned across it.) Eventually the service's digital news editor broadcast the following message:

Sky News has no information that James #Murdoch has been arrested and we believe that the @SkyNewsBiz accoutn [sic] was hacked.

That said, a James Murdoch arrest has been recently discussed by prosecutors investigating the News of the World phone hacking scandal, which has since metastasized to other corners of the News Corp. empire. According to the Daily Mail, a series of "bombshell" e-mails have since been discovered in a data storage facility in India that suggest Murdoch and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who has been arrested, may have been aware of mass deletions of NotW e-mails and possibly the phone hacking allegations themselves earlier than either admits.

Scotland Yard detectives are also reportedly comparing Murdoch's testimony to Parliament this past Thursday with intelligence gathered from the e-mail trove and, sources tell the Mail, may detain Murdoch in the coming weeks for further questioning. And while that whole "I had no idea" defense may cut it in Westminster, it's likely to fall flat if the police actually get their hands on the proverbial smoking e-mail (or memo).