British police have made what could turn out to be a high-profile arrest in conjunction with the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp’s former tabloid News Of The World. Metropolitan Police officers took a 41-year-old man into custody this morning in London who is believed to be private eye Glenn Mulcaire, a prominent figure in the ongoing investigation. Police said in a statement to the press that the man had been arrested “on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages … and on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.” This is one of few of the 18 arrests in the case to include the latter charge. When contacted by Deadline, the Met said it could neither confirm nor deny the identity of the man and wouldn’t release a name until formal charges had been made. However, The Telegraph reports that neighbors of Mulcaire’s say they heard “something going on” at his house this morning.
If the man is indeed Mulcaire, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d been in trouble with the law. The former NOTW investigator was jailed for 6 months in 2007 for illegally intercepting voicemails of aides to the royal family and has previously been convicted of hacking into the voicemail of various celebrities including Elle Macpherson. Comedic actor Steve Coogan has also been locked in a legal battle with the PI. This summer, allegations surfaced that Mulcaire had hacked into young murder victim Milly Dowler’s voicemails. But this week, Guardian reporter Nick Davies told the Leveson inquiry into the scandal that Mulcaire was merely the “facilitator.” “There is a misunderstanding, I think, around the way that he operates,” said Davies. “He does not actually, on the whole, do the listening to the messages himself. Most of that is done by the journalists themselves. Mulcaire’s job was to enable them to do that where there’s some problem because he’s a brilliant blagger, so he could gather information, data from the mobile phone company.”