Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the British tabloid News of the World, her husband Charlie, and four others were arrested without warning Tuesday morning on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, police officials said.
Conspiring to pervert the course of justice, in this investigation so far, has meant the destruction of email evidence.
The charge is an indication that investigators may be focusing on a possible coverup of the scope of phone hacking rather than the illegal hacking itself, the Associated Press reported.
"The coordinated arrests were made between approximately 0500 and 0700 this morning," Scotland Yard police said in a statement, Reuters reported. "A number of addresses connected to the arrests are being searched."
Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers testified last month that the practice of making arrests without warning is an attempt to "secure best evidence and prevent suspects conferring or disposing of evidence."
Rebekah Brooks, former newspaper editor and CEO of News International is the cover story of the international press. She was arrested in connection with phone hacking and corruption allegations.
Brooks was arrested in July on "suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications" and also on "suspicion of corruption allegations." But, Reuters says, it was only after she arrived at a London police station by -- appointment.
The BBC reports that the couple and three men were released on bail, but one man remains in custody.
Horsegate: Prime Minister David Cameron
The early morning police raid brought the scandal to British Prime Minister David Cameron's doorstep, who admitted at a press conference earlier this month that he had ridden on a retired police horse that had been loaned to Rebekah Brooks by the police, in an episode nicknamed: "Horsegate".
He also said that newspaper columnist Charlie Brooks,a racehorse trainer and Rebekah Brooks' husband, was a longtime "good friend".
"I've known Charlie Brooks, the husband of Rebekah Brooks, for over 30 years and he's a good friend and he's a neighbor in the constituency — we live a few miles apart," Cameron said.
What started out in 2005 with the revelation that tabloid reporters had broken into the voicemail systems of aides to the royal family for the now-closed News of the World, has blossomed to include a police-bribery probe at a second tabloid, the Sun.
Before she resigned in July of last year, Murdoch defended Brooks for months as the scandal escalated last year. Asked what his priority was, Mr. Murdoch replied, "This one", reported The Wall Street Journal who News Corp owns.