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Hacking scandal deepens: Fresh probe as News of the World sacks senior editor

Rupert Murdoch's News International yesterday conceded that the phone hacking scandal went to the heart of Britain's top-selling newspaper.

It announced that it had sacked a senior editor at the News of the World and passed “significant new information” to police, |including emails which could implicate other executives.

Scotland Yard immediately announced a new investigation into the damaging allegations which have seen the tabloid’s journalists accused of systematically accessing voicemails of public figures.

Former editor Andy Coulson resigned as David Cameron's spokesman on Friday because of the clamour surrounding the hacking claims.

In a move that will be seen as the start of a new bid by News |International to try to draw a line under the affair, the company said it had dismissed Ian |Edmondson, the paper's assistant news editor and part of Mr |Coulson's inner circle.

Edmondson was suspended in |December after he was linked to the activities of Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective jailed for hacking the phones of Prince William's aides.

Sources said a trawl of emails dating back nearly six years had found a dossier of “highly damaging evidence” which has been passed to Scotland Yard.

It is understood that detectives will scrutinise the information from thousands of messages for any indication that Mr Edmondson or other figures at the newspaper were responsible for instructing Mr Mulcaire to target the phones of celebrities and politicians prior to 2006.

In a statement, News International said: “The News of the World has terminated the employment of Ian Edmondson. Material evidence found during the course of the subsequent investigation has led to (his) dismissal. News International has informed the police, handed over the material it has found and will give its full co-operation.”

The sacking of one of Mr Coulson's most trusted tabloid attack

dogs represents a dramatic change in the stance of News International, which as recently as this month was maintaining its stance that the hacking was restricted to a single “rogue reporter” in the shape of the former royal editor Clive Goodman.

Goodman was imprisoned along with Mr Mulcaire and both men were paid money by the newspaper after their convictions — neither has spoken out.

Mr Murdoch is said to be furious at the failure of his managers to end the hacking scandal. His company's volte-face comes just days after he cancelled his trip to the Davos World Economic Forum and arrived at News International's Wapping headquarters to hold crisis talks with senior staff.

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