Last updated: December 15, 2011 12:39 pm

Woman arrested in phone hacking payments probe

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Police have arrested a 37-year-old woman in connection with alleged payments to police officers in the phone-hacking inquiry.

The Metropolitan Police said the woman was arrested “on suspicion of committing offences involving making payments to police officers for information” at 6.15am on Thursday.

The woman, thought to be Lucy Panton, former crime correspondent of the News of the World, is the seventh person arrested under Operation Elveden. She is being questioned at a south London police station after officers swooped on her Surrey home at dawn, the Met said.

The Met was heavily criticised for an inadequate investigation into phone hacking in 2006 and put a full squad of detectives on to the investigation, codenamed Operation Weeting, last January. Soon afterwards, it also set up Operation Elveden to look into allegations of corrupt payments made to police officers.

The last Elveden arrest was in early November, when Sun district editor Jamie Pyatt, 48, was held. Others questioned as part of the inquiry include former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, ex-Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson, former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner, the paper’s former royal editor Clive Goodman and a 63-year-old man whose identity has not been disclosed.

Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are both former editors of the News of the World, which was closed in July at the height of the scandal following revelations that murdered teenager Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked.

The arrest came after police chiefs revealed the final total of people whose phones were hacked by the News of the World will be about 800.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, the head of Operation Weeting, says she is confident her officers have met all the likely victims of the tabloid’s activities.

The phone hacking scandal led to the closure of the News of the World after 168 years, prompted a major public inquiry, and forced the resignation of Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and assistant commissioner John Yates.

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