British police open new tabloid phone hacking probe

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British police said Wednesday they were launching a new investigation into phone hacking by a Sunday tabloid newspaper after receiving "significant new information".

Police said the new material was linked to allegations about the activities of staff at the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World in 2005 and 2006.

The scandal led to the resignation on Friday of British Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief Andy Coulson, the newspaper's former editor.

Police said the inquiry was being moved from the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism command and would now be led by a specialist crime directorate.

A police spokesman said: "The Met has today received significant new information relating to allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World in 2005-06. As a result, the Met is launching a new investigation to consider this material.

"This work will be carried out by the specialist crime directorate which has been investigating a related phone hacking allegation since September 2010."

The News of the World's royal correspondent Clive Goodman was jailed in 2007 for conspiracy to access mobile phone messages involving Princes William and Harry.

Coulson resigned from the paper over the affair, becoming communications chief for Cameron's Conservative Party six months later, but has always insisted he did not know about the phone-hacking or authorise its use.

Prosecutors said in December there was insufficient evidence to bring charges over phone hacking claims, but the issue has refused to go away.

Celebrities including actress Sienna Miller are taking civil action against the paper and former employees have claimed Coulson encouraged the practice.

© 2011 AFP

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