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What British Police Are Searching for at News Corp.

An executive is alleged to have deleted "millions of emails"

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Rebekah Brooks spoke to her staff on Friday afternoon and seemed to acknowledge the overwhelming rush of calls for her resignation. "You may be angry with me, I understand," she reportedly said at the off-the-record meeting. "But I'm angry at the people who did this and feel bitterly betrayed." Brooks also said the News of the World brand had become "toxic" and that she's staying on because she's a "conductor for it all."

Calls for Rebekah Brooks's resignation are quickly evolving into calls for her arrest as more details are uncovered in the News of the World phone hacking scandal. The News Corp. CEO was editor of News of the World at the time reporters there hacked into murdered teenager Milly Dowler's phone and later confessed to a panel of members of Parliament that she had paid police officers for information. Now, former Metropolitan police chief Brian Paddick can't imagine why police wouldn't bring Brooks in. "If Andy Coulson has been arrested, it is inevitable that Rebekah Brooks will get an invitation from the police that she can not refuse," said Paddick.

In his first press conference since the phone hacking scandal's latest flare up, British Prime Minister David Cameron placed News Corp.'s deputy chief operating officer James Murdoch alongside Rebekah Brooks in the lineup of people to be questioned by police:

It won’t be a question of whether they have jobs or whether they are going to resign from those jobs, it’s a question of whether they are going to be prosecuted, whether they are going to be convicted, whether they are going to be punished. That is what is going to happen. …

I don’t know what these people at News International did know or didn’t know. Frankly, I don’t think any of us know. The key thing is that they are going to be investigated to the police.

But what exactly do police want to know from News Corp. leadership? Probably more details about the allegation that an executive "may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard's inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal."

The Guardian's Nick Davies and Amelia Hill report:

The archive is believed to have reached back to January 2005 revealing daily contact between News of the World editors, reporters and outsiders, including private investigators. The messages are potentially highly valuable both for the police and for the numerous public figures who are suing News International.

According to legal sources close to the police inquiry, a senior executive is believed to have deleted 'massive quantities' of the archive on two separate occasions, leaving only a small fraction to be disclosed. One of the alleged deletions is said to have been made at the end of January this year, just as Scotland Yard was launching Operation Weeting, its new inquiry into the affair.

Additionally, Davis and Hill note that their own investigation revealed News Corp. also "infuriated police by leaking sensitive information in spite of an undertaking to police that it would keep it confidential" and "risked prosecution for perverting the course of justice by trying to hide the contents of a senior reporter's desk after he was arrested by Weeting detectives in April."

Despite a shake up over their officers having received bribes from News Corp. papers in the past, London Metropolitan Police look like they're working hard. Police took former News of the World editor Andy Caulson into custody Friday morning. Around the same time, they also questioned former News of the World reporter Clive Goodman at his current office at the Daily Star Sunday. In 2007, Goodman served four months jail time--along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who served six months--for his involvement in the phone-hacking scandal. Now it appears that the police believe that there might be others involved--"the people who did this" mentioned by Brooks--further up the ladder.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.