Cheryl Carter, 47, is the latest suspect to be arrested by Scotland Yard’s Operation Weeting team.

She was arrested at her home this morning and is being questioned by officers at an Essex police station on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

It is understood that the police are investigating allegations that emails were destroyed before evidence was handed over to the Met.

Carter worked for the News International’s former chief executive for 19 years and worked as a beauty editor on the Sun. She left in July, shortly after Brooks resigned.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: “Officers from Operation Weeting have this morning arrested a 47-year-old woman at an address in Essex.

“The woman was arrested at approximately 06.55 on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice, and she is currently in custody at an Essex police station.

“She is the 17th person to be arrested as part of Operation Weeting, the investigation into phone hacking.”

Detectives are sifting through 300 million emails from News International and have arrested a series of high-profile figures including Andy Coulson, the former Downing Street communications chief.

Brooks was arrested in July last year as part of Operation Weeting and Operation Elevden, which was investigating police corruption.

Brooks is currently on bail and will return for police questioning in March. Her lawyer says she denies any criminal offence.