The arrests are part of an official inquiry following moral outrage by the British public over revelations that News of the World journalists hacked a phone belonging to a murdered 13-year-old girl named Milly Dowler. British newspaper The Guardian broke the story in July and disclosed that the News of the World also sanctioned intrusions Into the personal lives of British celebrities and the families of British soldiers killed overseas. Scotland Yard estimates that the number of people revealed to be hacked is approaching 800.
The formal inquiry is headed by Lord Justice Leveson and is backed by the police investigation "Operation Wheeting." So far, no arrests have been made, but 23 persons have been held.
In an earlier inquiry, Brooks admitted that News Corp. had paid off London police for information, including etails of victims whose phones were then hacked. In the Dowler case, the News of the World hacked the phone of the murdered girl but did not tell her parents she had been killed, reportedly waiting instead to listen to phone messages.
As members of parliament called openly for her to step down, Brooks refused, but did so shortly before she was arrested for the first time last summer.
The significance of the scandal is multifaceted. It is seen as highlighting the way Mr. Murdoch and News International executives used their power and fear it inspired to influence British politics. It also touches on a crisis of journalistic ethics, revealing collaboration between the so-called "red top" newspapers and public officials, including police.