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Data protection: Former Met officer arrested in investigation into press leaks

A 52-year-old former Metropolitan police officer has been arrested at his home in Berkshire by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The arrest was made yesterday morning, as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations that police officers helped tabloid newspapers construct stories using police data.

The former officer was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office, and offences under the Data Protection Act 1998.

"A 52-year-old man and former Metropolitan Police Service Officer was arrested by the IPCC at his home in Berkshire this morning on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and Data Protection Act offences," said an IPCC spokesman yesterday.

"The arrest is the result of information passed to the IPCC by the Met team investigating Operation Elveden, and relates to the passing of unauthorised information to a journalist," he added.

Operation Elveden was launched after the police received documents which appeared to suggest that Met police officers were involved in supplying information to journalists in return for illegal cash payments. The operation has so far produced nine arrests.

Running alongside Operation Elveden is Operation Weeting, which is investigating allegations of phone hacking at the former tabloid paper the News of the World.

The 168-year-old 'newspaper' was forced to close last year after it was revealed that journalists may have been involved in the hacking of voicemail messages including those of murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler, and the families of Iraq War casualties. That operation has produced 16 arrests, and a third operation, 'Tuleta', into computer hacking has produced one arrest.

The Prime Minister set up a public enquiry last year into media ethics following the scandal, which also saw several senior News Corp executives lose their jobs, alongside all staff at the disgraced paper.

Although the News of the World seems to have taken the brunt of the criticism, it is not known how widespread the practice of hacking was at other newspapers. The public enquiry has taken evidence from several celebrities who have testified to the way journalists have behaved towards them.

Related links:

Read more on the story (The Guardian)

Phone hacking and the law (FindLaw)

Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)