January 5, 2011 / 9:45 PM / 7 years ago

Tabloid suspends reporter for Sienna Miller eavesdrop

LONDON (Reuters) - A British tabloid has suspended a reporter for eavesdropping on the voicemail messages of movie star Sienna Miller, media reports said on Wednesday.

Previous accusations that journalists working for the News of the World have illegally intercepted phone messages to get stories have embarrassed the government as the paper's former editor is now Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief.

In December, British police said they would not bring charges relating to phone hacking against Andy Coulson, who quit as editor of the tabloid in 2007 and now works for Cameron.

Coulson resigned after reporter Clive Goodman, who covered the royal family, was jailed for four months after writing stories based on information from a private detective, who had illegally accessed the voicemail messages of palace aides.

Coulson has always denied being aware of the practice but a story in the New York Times in September said it was widespread and that former journalist Sean Hoare told the BBC the former editor had asked him to hack into phone messages.

The News of the World, part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, said it had suspended one of its journalists after a "serious allegation" was made about the individual's professional conduct. The mass-selling paper, said the staff member was suspended from active duties before Christmas.

The paper said the allegation is the subject of litigation and an internal investigation was also underway.

British media named the individual as Ian Edmondson, the paper's assistant editor (news), who media said has been linked to allegations relating to phone hacking at the paper.

The phone snooping allegation is the subject of litigation brought by the actress Sienna Miller four years ago, the BBC reported. She is one of a number of people who is suing the paper for alleged breach of privacy.

The tabloid said in a statement that if the "conclusion of the investigation or the litigation is that the allegation is proven, appropriate action will be taken." It said it had a "zero-tolerance approach to any wrong-doing."

Editing by Jon Hemming

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