James Desborough, U.S.-based News of the World reporter, arrested for phone hacking


Copies of the final edition of the News of the World. (Reuters)

James Desborough turned himself into London police on Thursday morning. Until the News of the World’s closing, he had been the paper’s Los Angeles-based U.S. editor since April 2009.

According to Journalisted, Desborough covered such topics as “Jacko had cocaine in his pants,” “Arnie’s passion for ugly women” and “Jacko wanted opportunity to make Bubbles talk.” Before moving to the U.S. he won a British Press Award for show business reporter of the year for his celebrity scoops.

The Guardian reports: “His move to the US makes his arrest, the 13th made by Operation Weeting, particularly significant. If Desborough was involved in hacking while in Britain, as police appear to believe he was, it raises the question of whether he practised those techniques in the US — and if so, whether he was the first and only News of the World journalist in the US to do so.”

The scandal, which has reverberated through the British political and journalism circles, has yet to make much of an impact in the U.S.

The FBI looked into charges that Sept. 11, 2001, victims had their phones hacked but were unable to find “hard evidence” of any wrongdoing.

A company called Floorgraphics has taken News International to court, accusing the group of hacking its way into Floorgraphics’ password-protected computer system. Eventually the company settled with Floorgraphics for $29.5 million, the New York Times reports. And that’s hardly the only settlement the company has made in the U.S.:

“It paid out $125 million to Insignia Systems to settle allegations of anticompetitive behavior and violations of antitrust laws. And in the most costly payout, it spent half a billion dollars in 2010 on another settlement, just days before the case was scheduled to go to trial. The plaintiff, Valassis Communications, had already won a $300 million verdict in Michigan, but dropped the lawsuit in exchange for $500 million and an agreement to cooperate on certain ventures going forward.”

However, public anger has yet to rise here against News International, as it has in the U.K., likely because any allegations remain just that: allegations.

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