Blog post prompted Thurlbeck 'witness intimidation' arrest

Former News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck was arrested yesterday and questioned for six hours after a posting on his blog which revealed News Corp general manager Will Lewis's home address.

Press Gazette understands that his arrest yesterday, on suspicion of witness intimidation, followed a complaint made on behalf of Lewis to officers on the Operation Weeting phone-hacking inquiry.

Thurlbeck was arrested by appointment yesterday and questioned for six hours before being released on bail.

The blog post in question was posted last Wednesday and revealed that Lewis had hired a company to improve security at his north London home.

The post attracted a legal letter from lawyers Mishcon de Reya threatening Thurlbeck with an injunction unless he took it down. Thurlbeck took the post down and then republished an edited version later that night. The following day he issued an apology for any distress caused by publishing the road name of the Lewis family home.

Lewis's address is understood to be publicly available on the electoral roll.

As one of the leading members of the News Corp management and standards committee, Lewis has been involved in handing over information to police which has led to the arrest of 11 Sun journalists by officers on the Met's Elveden inquiry into corruption. The Thurlbeck blog post noted that this has led to much ill-feeling towards Lewis amongst News International journalists.

Thurlbeck was arrested in April last year on suspicion of involvement in phone-hacking and remains on police bail. If he were to face trial, Lewis could potentially be a witness.

Writing on his blog today, Thurlbeck insisted that he would not be deterred from continuing to publish his work online despite yesterday's events.

'One minute I was sitting penning a new post. The next, I was in the police station, having DNA mouth swabs and my fingerprints and police mugshot taken. A compaint had been made and acted upon very swiftly indeed.

"For six hours on Wednesday, it really didn't feel like England. Grateful thanks to my superb lawyer Henri Brandman who was an immense support and wise counsel.

"And to all my family and friends for your support and for your kind messages. I vigorously deny the allegations of any wrongdoing, which seem extremely far-fetched to me.

"And I will continue with my blog and my work regardless of today's events. I will be issuing no further statement on this matter in the immediate future."

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

 

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