James Desborough, an award-winning reporter at the former News of the World newspaper, has been arrested by officers investigating the phone-hacking scandal. Desborough was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications,after arriving at a south London police station on Thursday morning. He had arrived at the station by appointment for questioning about criminal activities at the paper. The allegations are believed to relate to events prior to Desborough being promoted to be the newspaper’s Los Angeles-based US editor in April 2009.
He was given the job less than a month after winning the British Press Award for showbusiness reporter of the year.
His move to the US makes his arrest, the 13th made by Operation Weeting, particularly significant. If Desborough was involved in hacking while in Britain, as police appear to believe he was, it raises the question of whether he practised those techniques in the US – and if so, whether he was the first and only News of the World journalist in the US to do so.
At the 2009 British Press Awards ceremony, Desborough was praised by judges for his series of “uncompromising scoops which mean no celebrity with secrets can sleep easy”. He was presented with his award by Jon Snow, the respected Channel 4 journalist and anchorman.
Desborough continued to win plaudits after his move to America. Ian Halperin, a Hollywood author, described him as someone who “never gets his facts wrong. He’s a rock solid reporter.” Hollyscope, an online site, also praised Desborough for “seem[ing] to have information that not even close family members … know.”
Desborough joined the News of the World in 2005 and broke stories including “Fern’s big fat lie”, which revealed that former This Morning host Fern Britton’s dramatic weight loss was the result of having a gastric band fitted, not exercise and sensible eating as had been thought.
Desborough was writing for the News of the World up until it closed last month.
His final story for the online version of the paper was on 8 July, two days before it closed, claiming the new Duchess of Cambridge was to act in a Hollywood film.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.