A former personal assistant for Rebekah Brooks was arrested today by detectives investigating phone hacking at the News of the World.
Cheryl Carter, 47, was named by several sources as the latest suspect to be questioned by Scotland Yard’s Operation Weeting squad.
Carter left News International in July after 19 years working for Brooks, the company’s former chief executive. She also worked for the Sun as a beauty editor.
She is being questioned at a police station in Essex on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Detectives are understood to be investigating allegations that emails were destroyed at the company before evidence was handed over to the Metropolitan Police.
Carter, who has also offered beauty tips on website Thinkingslimmer.com, was arrested at her Billericay home at dawn.
Brooks, her former boss, was arrested and bailed in July by the same team of detectives.
Scotland Yard said the latest suspect is the 17th arrest under its probe into mobile phone interceptions.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The woman was arrested at approximately 6.55am … she is currently in custody at an Essex police station.”
Carter is the first Weeting arrest since private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was released on bail until March over allegations of phone hacking and perverting the course of justice.
Some 1,800 people have come forward to express fears that they may have been hacked but the final total of people whose phones were hacked by the News of the World will be about 800, the force believes.
The scandal has already led to the closure of the Sunday tabloid after 168 years, prompted a major public inquiry, and forced the resignation of Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and assistant commissioner John Yates.
Carter worked for Brooks when she was appointed News of the World editor in 2000, Sun editor in 2003, and then promoted to News International chief executive in 2009.
She is a partner in a cosmetics business with former model and celebrity make-up artist Sue Moxley.