In a dramatic turn, Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's British media group News International, and — intriguingly — her husband Charlie, a racehorse trainer, were on Tuesday arrested with five others as part of the police investigations into the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

The couple were arrested from their home in Oxfordshire while others were picked up from addresses in London, Hampshire and Hertfordshire. News International's head of security, Mark Hanna, was among those held. Identities of others were not known.

This is the second time that Ms. Brooks, a family friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, has been arrested. A former editor of NoW and The Sun, she was first arrested last summer and had been on bail. After her arrest last July, she resigned from News International.

Ms. Brooks has also been questioned over allegations that journalists at NoW and The Sun paid bribes to police and other public officials for stories.

Her lawyer denied that she had committed any criminal offence. She insists that she was not aware of any illegal practices either at NoW or The Sun.

The Brooks live only a few km from Mr. Cameron's family home his Oxfordshire constituency. Mr. Brooks is an old friend of Mr. Cameron from their days at Eton and often go riding together, though the Prime Minister has been at pains to distance himself from the Brooks in the wake of the hacking scandal. Their close relationship has raised questions about the cosy links between the Murdoch press and politicians. Forty-four people, including 10 current and former senior Sun journalists, have been arrested so far in connection with inquiries into hacking and payment of bribes.

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