James Desborough resident in L.A. since 2009

Former News of the World U.S. editor James Desborough has been arrested by police in London in conjunction with the now-defunct tabloid’s phone hacking scandal.

Officers from Operation Weeting investigating the scandal arrested him “on suspicion of conspiring to unlawfully intercept voicemails.” Desborough, who has been living in Los Angeles since 2009 after being promoted from showbiz reporter at the News of the World, arrived at a London police station by appointment on Thursday morning for questioning about illegal activities at the News Intl. paper.

His arrest, the 13th by Operation Weeting, is understood to be in relation to practices before his promotion to U.S. editor but it raises questions about whether he used illegal means to gather information Stateside, which would add to News Corp.’s legal and regulatory problems.

Desborough, who joined News of the World in 2005 as a showbiz and news reporter, was promoted less than a month after winning the British Press Award for showbusiness reporter of the year. The judging panel said he “produced a series of uncompromising scoops, which mean no celebrity with secrets can sleep easy.”

He was also part of the press corps that toured with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they visited Los Angeles recently, and was writing for the News of the World until it closed last month.

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