Top Hollywood editor for News of the World arrested in hacking probe

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, August 18, 2011 10:27 EDT
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The News Corp. hacking scandals may have just come to U.S. shores.

James Desborough, the former Los Angeles editor for News of the World who’d previously won awards for his show business coverage in London, has been arrested by authorities investigating allegations of criminal hacking and rampant corruption.

Desborough is thought to face charges stemming from activities inside the U.K., according to The Guardian, but his appearance as the 13th News Corp. employee to be arrested raises the possibility that hacking may have taken place in the U.S. as well.

He was appointed in 2009 to be the U.S. editor for News of the World in Los Angeles after winning a British Press Award for his show business coverage. Desborough was roundly lauded in London and in Hollywood for his ability to scoop celebrities’ secrets, and wrote for the paper right up until it closed last month.

His arrest comes after several days of new revelations in the investigation of News Corp. Earlier this week a letter surfaced, written by the first News of the World reporter to be arrested for hacking voicemails, which accused the paper’s top journalists and company executives of openly discussing their hacking efforts during editorial meetings.

The letter also contradicted former Wall St. Journal publisher Les Hinton’s resignation letter to News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, in which he claimed nobody had ever informed him that anyone other than a single journalist was involved in illegal activities.

The letter, from Clive Goodman, who was arrested for intercepting voicemails for people employed by the royal family, named Hinton as a recipient. Hinton resigned last month.

The arrest of Desborough may also give members of Parliament something new to question News International CEO James Murdoch about, along with his father Rupert, if they decide the latest evidence is enough to recall them for fresh testimony. One major crack in James Murdoch’s testimony has already appeared, in that he’d previously insisted a large settlement paid out to an alleged hacking victim was not made to buy the man’s silence.

In a letter he wrote to Parliament after that testimony, he revealed that it was indeed a payment for confidentiality, but said that he wasn’t part of the negotiations, despite being the final authority to sign off on the payment. He also admitted that the company paid Clive Goodman, a convicted criminal, over £256,503 following his arrest and brief incarceration.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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