Rebekah Brooks and her millionaire husband have been arrested in a series of dawn raids on a day of dramatic developments in the phone-hacking scandal.
The former News of the World editor and Charlie Brooks are two of the six people held today by the Met Police on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Five of the six have been released on bail. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said they were bailed to dates next month while the sixth suspect remains in custody.
In total, 23 people have now been arrested under Operation Weeting, which was set up in January 2011 to investigate allegations of phone-hacking by journalists.
News International head of security Mark Hanna was also among those arrested today.
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Mrs Brooks, 43, rose from secretary to become Rupert Murdoch's trusted lieutenant at News International and he initially refused to accept her resignation even after the News Of The World was forced to close.
Mr and Mrs Brooks were arrested at their home in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, which is now being searched.
The arrests are hugely embarrassing for the Prime Minister who is an Eton schoolfriend of Charlie, 49, and has a home just a few miles away from them. Over the years former News International chief executive Rebekah has become close to Mr Cameron - rubbing shoulders with him both professionally and socially.
She was being questioned at an Oxfordshire police station, while Mr Brooks was being interviewed at a Buckinghamshire police station.
Charlie was planning to attend the Cheltenham Festival which begins today - but instead he was in police custody.
In his column in the Daily Telegraph yesterday he wrote: 'The happiest moment of my year is about three hours before the first race at Cheltenham on Tuesday; queuing behind Alan Brazil for my, but not his, first pint of Guinness of the meeting.'
Mrs Brooks was on bail having been arrested by police investigating phone hacking last July.
HORSEGATE: DAVID CAMERON, REBEKAH BROOKS AND THE RETIRED POLICE HORSE
The Prime Minister was forced to concede that ex-police horse Raisa was among those he used while out with Mrs Brooks’s husband Charlie, an Eton schoolfriend.
After initially trying to laugh off the affair, Mr Cameron admitted that he did go riding with Mr Brooks.
He said: ‘I have not been riding with him since the election. Before the election, yes, I did go riding with him.
‘He has a number of horses and, yes, one of them was this former police horse Raisa which I did ride.’
The 24-year-old retired Metropolitan Police horse was lent to Mrs Brooks between 2008 and 2010.
Most retired Met horses are put out to grass at a horse charity in Buckinghamshire but some are loaned out to members of the public for a limited period.
The Prime Minister described Rebekah’s husband as a ‘good friend’ and ‘neighbour’ whom he had known for over 30 years.
Mr Cameron attended the Brooks's wedding in 2009 and Mr Brooks is chairman of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire, which the Prime Minister has ridden with.
However, on that occasion, she was held for nine hours after turning up for a pre-arranged appointment and questioned on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of corruption. This time, she was hauled out of bed by police between 5am and 7am.
Her fresh arrest comes days after her lawyer, Stephen Parkinson, claimed evidence given by police chief Sue Akers at the Leveson Inquiry had prejudiced her chances of getting a fair trial.
The names of the other suspects held have not been released. But officers are searching several addresses in London, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Hertfordshire, Scotland Yard said.
The arrests come just three weeks after media mogul Rupert Murdoch, founder of parent company News Corp, launched the Sun on Sunday in an attempt to draw a line under the phone-hacking investigation.
His son James also stood down as executive chairman of News International at the same time.
Earlier this month David Cameron was forced to make further admissions about the extent of his relationship with Mr and Mrs Brooks.
After it emerged that Scotland Yard had lent an ex-police horse, Raisa, to Mrs Brooks, the Prime Minister conceded the animal had been among his mounts on rides with Mr Brooks - a friend from their Eton schooldays.
Asked whether the horse riding was emblematic of those overly close ties, Mr Cameron said: 'I have known Charlie Brooks, the husband of Rebekah Brooks, for over 30 years.
'He is a good friend and he is a neighbour in the constituency. We live a few miles apart.'
Today, asked about the arrests, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: 'The Prime Minister is travelling to Washington. It is an operational matter for the police. You wouldn't expect him to comment on it.'
Rebekah Brooks become the most powerful woman in British media who was courted by politicians from all parties after rising from humble beginnings.
She edited both the News of the World and The Sun newspapers before being appointed News International chief executive by Rupert Murdoch in 2009.
Mr Brooks, is an author and racehorse trainer who married Rebekah in 2009. He became a trainer after an injury ended his hopes of becoming a jockey.
Nicknamed 'Champagne Charlie' and 'Looks Brooks', the couple quickly became known for the power they wielded and the amazing lifestyle they pursued.
They enjoyed nothing more than to fly to Venice for lunch at Harry's Bar before returning to London for dinner in Jermyn Street in the evening.
Brooks had been previously married to EastEnders actor Ross Kemp but their relationship ended in 2009 after a stormy seven years.
Officers from Operation Weeting said they consulted the Crown Prosecution Service before carrying out the raids this morning.
They are not related to the arrests of 11 Sun journalists who have been held on suspicion of making corrupt payments to police officers.
Those allegations are being investigated under Operation Elveden, a separate inquiry.
In total, 23 people have now been arrested under Operation Weeting - including Rebekah Brooks' assistant Cheryl Carter who was held on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
Glenn Mulcaire, the News of the World private investigator, and former News of the World reporter Ross Hall have also been questioned on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
Other people arrested include former NotW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, Neil Wallis, the former executive editor, and Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor.
Today's arrests were not as a result of information provided to police by News Corporation's Management and Standards Committee which is passing suspicious emails and documents to officers.
POLICE HOLD 11 IN PROBE INTO ILLEGAL PAYMENTS TO OFFICERS
It is a separate investigation linked to Operation Weeting, the phone-hacking inquiry.
The Sun's defence editor Virginia Wheeler, 32, was arrested earlier this month under Operation Elveden over allegations of corrupt payments made to public officials.
The Sun’s deputy editor Geoff Webster, picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker, and news editor John Sturgis were arrested in February.
The previous month former managing editor Graham Dudman, 48, now a training director at News International; executive editor Fergus Shanahan, 56, a former deputy editor of the paper under Rebekah Brooks; long-serving crime editor Mike Sullivan, 48; and head of news Chris Pharo, 42 were also detained and later bailed. Jamie Pyatt, The Sun's district man, was also arrested last year.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that six people had been arrested under the phone hacking investigation.
'Police have today arrested six people at addresses in London, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Hertfordshire,' he said.
'The co-ordinated arrests were made between approximately 5am and 7am this morning by officers from Operation Weeting, the Metropolitan Police service inquiry into the phone-hacking of voicemail boxes.
'All six - five men and one woman - were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977.
'A number of addresses connected to the arrests are being searched.'
He confirmed they were 'a 43-year-old woman from Oxfordshire, a 49-year-old man from Oxfordshire, a 39-year-old man from Hampshire, a 46-year-old man from West London, a 38-year-old man from Hertfordshire and a 48-year-old man from East London'.
A total of 91 police officers are working on the Operation Weeting investigation which is being led by Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers.
The phone hacking probe, is being run alongside two linked investigations. Operation Elveden is investigating alleged corrupt payments two police officers while Operation Tuleta is looking into allegations of computer hacking.
PHONE HACKING PROBE: TIMELINE OF EVENTS AT NEWS INTERNATIONAL
2009: July 9 - The Guardian reports that the News of the World's publisher has paid over £1 million to settle cases that threatened to reveal evidence of its journalists' alleged involvement in phone hacking.
Scotland Yard says it will not be carrying out a new investigation into the allegations, but the Crown Prosecution Service announces a review of material provided by the police in 2006.
2010: February 24 - A Culture, Media and Sport Committee report finds no evidence that Mr Coulson knew phone hacking was taking place at the News of the World, but says it is 'inconceivable' that no-one apart from Goodman was aware of it.
May 11 - Mr Coulson becomes head of the new coalition Government's media operation after Mr Cameron enters 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister.
September 5 - The New York Times publishes an article which claims Mr Coulson knew his staff were carrying out illegal phone hacking. The story also raises questions about how vigorously Scotland Yard pursued the case.
2011: January 21 - Mr Coulson announces he is standing down as Downing Street communications chief, saying the claims about illegal eavesdropping under his editorship was making his job impossible.
January 26 - Scotland Yard launches a fresh inquiry into the phone hacking controversy, called Operation Weeting, after receiving 'significant new information' from News International, which publishes the News of the World.
April 8 - News International admits liability and apologises "unreservedly" to a number of public figures whose phones were hacked.
July 4 - The Guardian reports that the News of the World hacked the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler after she went missing in 2002.
July 6 - Mr Cameron announces a public inquiry into the scandal. Rupert Murdoch describes the phone hacking allegations as 'deplorable and unacceptable' but backs Rebekah Brooks to continue as News International chief executive.
July 7 - News International chairman James Murdoch announces he is closing the News of the World.
July 8 - Mr Coulson is arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and corruption and held for questioning before being released on bail.
July 14 - Former News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis is arrested on suspicion of phone hacking, putting Scotland Yard under pressure to explain why it employed him as a PR consultant in 2009-10.
July 15 - Mrs Brooks resigns as chief executive of News International and is arrested two days later on suspicion of phone hacking before being bailed.
July 18 - Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates stands down following criticism of his handling of a review of the initial probe into phone hacking at the News of the World.
Former News of the World journalist and phone-hacking whistle-blower Sean Hoare is found dead at his home in Watford, Hertfordshire.
July 19 - Rupert and James Murdoch, along with Mrs Brooks, give evidence to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
September 6 - The News of the World's former editor Colin Myler and ex-legal manager Tom Crone tell the Culture, Media and Sport Committee they informed James Murdoch in 2008 about an email that proved hacking went beyond a single 'rogue reporter' on the News of the World. Mr Murdoch denies their claim.
November 8 - The BBC reports that the News of the World paid private detective Derek Webb to spy on Prince William, the parents of Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe and a host of other high-profile individuals.
November 14 - The Leveson Inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, starts hearing evidence about the culture, practice and ethics of the British press.
December 12 - A lawyer for Scotland Yard tells the Leveson Inquiry it is 'unlikely' that News International journalists erased messages from Milly Dowler's phone three days after she went missing in 2002, contrary to the Guardian's original report in July.
2012: January 6 - Mrs Brooks's former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, is arrested on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice and questioned before being released on bail.
January 19 - The High Court hears that dozens of celebrities and politicians, including Jude Law and Lord Prescott, have now settled damages claims over the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
January 23 - A report reveals a News of the World journalist told police in April 2002 that they got Milly Dowler's mobile phone number and pin from other schoolchildren.
January 26 - Former defence secretary Liam Fox said attempts were made to hack his phone, though not while he was a government minister, and says he has met with officers from Scotland Yard's hacking inquiry Operation Weeting
January 28 - Four former and current Sun journalists and a serving Metropolitan Police officer are arrested over alleged illegal police payments. Senior Sun employees Chris Pharo, 42, and Mike Sullivan along with former executives Fergus Shanahan, 57, and Graham Dudman, are detained by officers from Operation Elveden. They are later bailed.
February 2 - Labour MP Tom Watson says he has received a letter from Scotland Yard informing him that police are investigating allegations of email hacking at The Times, after the newspaper admitted one of its reporters tried to access a private account. The Times named Lancashire detective Richard Horton as the author of the award-winning NightJack blog in June 2009 after the High Court refused to grant him anonymity. Editor James Harding later told the Leveson Inquiry that one of his reporters - named as Patrick Foster - was issued with a formal written warning for professional misconduct for gaining unauthorised access to Mr Horton's email account.
February 7 - The Metropolitan Police force admits at the High Court that it failed to warn victims and potential victims of phone hacking at the time of its original investigation into the scandal.
February 8 - Steve Coogan and Paul Gascoigne are among 15 phone-hacking damages claims which settle close to trial. The payments mean 54 of the original 60 cases have been settled. Five more are due to be heard later, while singer Charlotte Church and her parents have refused to settle, paving the way for a landmark trial on February 27.
February 11 - Eight people, including five employees from The Sun, a serving member of the Armed Forces, a Ministry of Defence employee and a Surrey Police officer, are arrested in connection with the probe into inappropriate payments to police and public officials.
Police confirm Operation Elveden has widened to include the investigation of evidence uncovered in relation to suspected corruption involving public officials who are not police officers.
February 13 - Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor of The Sun, accuses police of treating the paper's journalists like 'members of an organised crime gang'.
He also tells BBC Radio 4's The World At One that there were concerns at the way evidence passed to the police by the NI's Management and Standards Committee (MSC) was being used.
February 16 - Rupert Murdoch arrives in the UK to take charge of the latest crisis involving one of his titles.
February 17 - Mr Murdoch declares his 'unwavering support' for the Sun's journalists and announces he is lifting the suspensions of all arrested staff.
He also confirms he will begin publishing the top-selling tabloid seven days a week by launching a new paper called the Sun on Sunday 'very soon'.
February 19 - News International announces The Sun on Sunday will be published on February 26 for the first time.
February 27 - Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, the police officer leading the phone hacking investigation, tells the Leveson Inquiry officers have uncovered a 'network' of corruption and evidence suggesting 'culture of illegal payments' at The Sun which appeared to have been authorised at a 'senior level'.
March 1 - Virginia Wheeler, 32, defence editor of The Sun, is arrested on suspicion of paying public officials for information. She becomes the 23rd person to be arrested by officers working on Operation Elveden.
March 6 - It emerges that the Attorney General is looking into concerns that Ms Akers's evidence could have prejudiced any potential trials.
March 13 - Rebekah Brooks and her racehorse trainer husband are among six suspects arrested by detectives investigating phone hacking at News International. They are held on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.