Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson is likely to be arrested today over allegations that he knew about the phone hacking and bribing of police officers during his time at the paper.
Coulson – who also worked as David Cameron’s Head of Communications – will attend the police station by appointment, where he will be questioned about whether he knew that News of the World staff were intercepting phone calls.
News of the World to close on Sunday
If charged and convicted, Coulson will face a prison sentence. Intercepting voicemail messages carries a maximum two-year sentence.
Bribing police officers is classed as “aiding and abetting misconduct in public office” and is likely to carry a jail term of between three and five years.
So far there is no indication that Rebekah Brooks will be arrested. The former News of the World editor, who is currently Rupert Murdoch’s New International chief executive, has not lost her job and is receiving the full backing of her boss.
There is speculation among those who support Coulson, that, now he has been “hung out to dry” by News International bosses, he could take down other senior figures.
If Coulson chooses to, he could possibly make damaging claims about Brooks, which could result in her being questioned.
A source linked to the police investigation said: “If Andy Coulson goes down, he could take some very senior people with him. He must know where the bodies are buried at News International.”
Coulson’s arrest will come as a huge embarrassment to David Cameron, who employed the former News of the World editor as his chief spin doctor in January before Coulson stepped down in light of the phone hacking scandal.
According to Telegraph writer Peter Obourne, Cameron’s reputation will be “permanently and irrevocably damaged”.
“The prime minister is in a mess,” Obourbe wrote. “To put the matter rather more graphically, he is in a sewer.”
The News of the World, which has been running for 168 years, will close on Sunday amid allegations taht 4,000 people – including Milly Dowler – had their phones hacked.
Here's the official statement on the News of the World website: newsoftheworld.co.uk