AddThis SmartLayers

Students’ shock at journalism tutor’s arrest

Students of a journalism lecturer arrested for phone hacking have spoken of their shock.

Bethany Usher, a former News of the World reporter, who started her career on the Sunderland Echo was arrested and questioned by police earlier this week.

She has denied any involvement in phone-hacking in a statement issued via The Guardian in which she says she worked mainly on the road in the north of England and had little contact with staff in the Wapping office.

The Teesside Evening Gazette reported that current and former students from Teesside University where Ms Usher is a lecturer were left stunned by the news.

Jordan Brough, 19, said: “Bethany’s my journalistic ethics tutor at university.

“It was a massive shock. She’s a fantastic teacher and probably the most enthusiastic journalist I’ve ever met. I’ve been trying to get in contact with her because I am supposed to have a seminar with her this morning.”

Another student, who did not want to be named, said: “We knew from an early stage to stick to the rules and the PCC guidelines and Bethany was always the first person to teach us that.

“She’s been a role model for us. We’re all shocked and surprised.”

And Marie Morgan described her as “an inspiring teacher” who “hated tabloid journalism and is very focused on teaching journalism ethics”.

A spokeswoman for Teesside University declined to comment on whether or not Ms Usher had been suspended from her position.

Ms Usher, 31, was a reporter at the News of the World from 2006 to 2007. She was questioned by officers in 2006 on suspicion of providing false information for a job at Buckingham Palace.

In July 2009 she told the Gazette she had no knowledge of phone tapping at the News of the World.

“We weren’t allowed to stray beyond the code of practice at all, and everything we did was 100pc above board,” she said at the time.

“It seems a bit strange to me that this has resurfaced so quickly after the expenses scandal.”

Her arrest was the 17th made in connection with Operation Weeting – the Metropolitan Police investigation into alleged phone hacking.

Around 300 million e-mails from News International are being trawled through as part of the investigation.