JULY 8 2011 10:29h

Ex-editor to be arrested; 4,000 hacked

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LONDON, July 8 (UPI) -- An ex-British tabloid editor who was later the British government's spokesman was to be arrested in the newspaper's phone-hacking scandal, police said.

Andy Coulson, a former editor of disgraced mass-circulation tabloid News of the World, was told to turn himself in to London's Metropolitan Police Service Friday on suspicion he knew about, or had direct involvement in, cellphone hacking during his editorship, The Guardian and other British newspapers reported.

He and a half dozen other people at the tabloid, including high-ranking editors, are also suspected of illegally paying at least $160,000 to police for information and confidential documents, The Guardian and other newspapers said.

Coulson, 43, could face perjury charges for allegedly lying under oath when he was Prime Minister David Cameron's chief spokesman that he had no knowledge of reporters' illegal activities while he was the Sunday tabloid's editor, The Mirror reported.

Nearly 4,000 people may have had their phones hacked by Britain's largest-circulation newspaper, Scotland Yard said Thursday.

Michael Mansfield, a queen's counsel lawyer who represented the family of Princess Diana's former lover Dodi Fayed at the inquest into her 1997 death, said he received a letter from Scotland Yard saying he was on a list of possible targets, The Guardian said.

The mushrooming list of allegations prompted News Corp. Thursday to close the 168-year-old News of the World after Sunday's edition, putting as many as 250 people out of work.

Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch, Chairman Rupert Murdoch's son and heir apparent, said the paper would close because the allegations, if true, were "inhuman" and had no place in the company.

The younger Murdoch said News Corp.'s British subsidiary had "failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoings that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose."

Subsidiary News International's repeated claims the scandal was "confined to one reporter" had proven untrue, he said, "and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences."

The closure -- which Murdoch's co-owned Times of London reported under the headline "Hacked to death" -- actually fits into a Murdoch plan because company executives had already intended to shut the paper and make its six-day-a-week sister, The Sun, a seven-day paper, the BBC reported.

The name "Sun on Sunday" was registered this week along with the Web site domain name thesunonsunday.co.uk, United Press International confirmed.

A News International spokeswoman told The New York Times she could not comment on the possibility that The Sun, Britain's highest-circulation daily, would move to a seven-day operation.