Hack probe widens with arrest of ex Standard journalist

Officers from Scotland Yard’s phone-hacking investigation Operation Weeting yesterday arrested former Evening Standard journalist Raoul Simons.

He is the second journalist arrested by the Met who does not have links to the News of the World, though Press Association reporter Laura Elston, who was arrested in June, was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

Simons has been deputy football editor of The Times since August 2009 when he joined from the Standard, but went on sick leave in September 2010 and remains on extended leave.

According to reports Simons was arrested at his home at 5.55am yesterday and questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages at a north London police station. He was bailed until next month pending further enquiries.

A New York Times article on phone hacking in September 2010 revealed the existence of an audio recording in which private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was later jailed for phone hacking, explained how to hack into the mobile phone of Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor.

The Times today reports that the man on the other end of the phone was Simons.

In February 2011 BBC business reporter Robert Peston said the phone call dated from four or five years ago when the Standard was owned by Associated Newspapers, which suggested that Mulcaire had dealings with other news organisations beyond the News of the World.

Peston reported that when the tape was put on the web by the New York Times in September 2010 the journalist disclosed to News International that he was the person talking to Mulcaire in his role as an Evening Standard journalist, although there was no evidence his conversation led to any story being published by the Evening Standard.

A spokeswoman for News International told the Press Association: “News International continues to co-operate fully with the Metropolitan Police Service in its investigation into phone hacking.”

The Evening Standard was approached for comment but had not responded at the time of publication. When the allegations surrounding the Standard journalist first emerged on the Peston blog, insiders at the paper said they knew nothing about the matter.

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