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British PM's ex-aide arrested in scandal

LONDON -- Prime Minister David Cameron's former communications chief and an ex-royal reporter were arrested Friday in a phone hacking and police corruption scandal that has rattled the cozy relationship between British politicians and the powerful Murdoch media empire.

The 168-year-old muckraking weekly News of the World was shut down Thursday amid allegations its journalists paid police for information and hacked into the phone messages of celebrities, young murder victims and even the grieving families of dead soldiers. Its last publication day is Sunday.

The hacking revelations horrified both ordinary Britons and advertisers, who pulled their ads en masse. News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., killed the paper in hopes of saving its $19 billion deal to take over satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.

But the British government Friday signaled the deal would be delayed as a result of the crisis.

The police investigation into the phone hacking drew close to the prime minister Friday with the arrest of Andy Coulson, Cameron's once-powerful communications chief and a former editor of News of the World.

Coulson, 43, was arrested on suspicion of corruption and "conspiring to intercept communications." After he was released on bail, Coulson declined to answer questions from reporters as he left a police station.

Police also arrested Clive Goodman, the former News of the World royal editor, on suspicion of making illegal payoffs to police for scoops.

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