British journalist suspended amid Sienna Miller claims

6th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British newspaper said Wednesday it had suspended one of its senior journalists after phone-hacking allegations emerged involving Hollywood actress Sienna Miller.

The suspension of Ian Edmondson, assistant editor (news) at the News of the World tabloid, fuels a phone-hack scandal that erupted when the paper was edited by the man who later became the British premier's communications chief.

The royal correspondent at the News of the World, a Sunday paper owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, was jailed in 2007 for conspiracy to access mobile phone messages involving Princes William and Harry.

Andy Coulson, now director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron, was editor of the paper at the time and resigned over the affair although he insisted he knew nothing about it.

In the latest twist to the phone-hacking saga, a document lodged at the High Court in London links Edmondson with the interception of voicemail messages from the phone of Miller.

Solicitor Mark Thomson has said paperwork and other records seized by police from a private investigator who had worked for journalists at the paper implied Edmondson was linked to the hacking.

Miller is suing the News of the World's parent company, News Group, and the private investigator, accusing them of breaching her privacy and of harassment.

The News of the World confirmed a member of staff had been suspended over a "serious allegation."

"We have followed our internal procedures and we can confirm that this person was suspended from active duties just before Christmas," said the paper in a statement.

"The allegation is the subject of litigation and our internal investigation will take place in tandem with that," it said.

The paper added that "appropriate action" would be taken if the allegation were proven. "The News of the World has a zero tolerance approach to any wrongdoing," it added.

The paper has claimed the 2007 case was a one-off but police revived an investigation into the phone-hacking scandal in September.

This came after it was reported that a former journalist at Britain's biggest-selling Sunday paper said Coulson had encouraged him to hack voicemails.

Coulson was interviewed as a witness at a voluntary meeting with officers from London's Metropolitan Police in November over the allegations.

But prosecutors said last month there was no evidence to bring charges over phone-hacking claims at the paper after several witnesses refused to testify.

These included Sean Hoare, the journalist cited in The New York Times newspaper article as making the allegation.

© 2011 AFP

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