Last week TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington took to his personal blog to say he's "nearly certain" that Google accessed his Gmail account to get hold of the identity of an insider who leaked information to him. In a statement to Re/Code, Google general counsel Kent Walker has now rebuffed those cliams.

"While our terms of service might legally permit such access, we have never done this and it's hard for me to imagine circumstances where we would investigate a leak in that way", he said.

Arrington's accusation comes on the heels of the recent admission by Microsoft that they did snoop on a Hotmail account to trace the identity of an employee who leaked Windows 8 details. He called the move 'evil and shortsighted' but said the only surprise is that they admitted it.

According to Arrington's account, a few years back after he broke a major story about Google, his source approached him at a party and said they had been asked by the search giant if they were the source. Although initially the source denied it Google had the actual email proving otherwise.

Although the source communicated with Arrington from a non-Google email account, Arrington himself was using Gmail at the time.

A little while after that his source was no longer employed by Google, he says, adding that he was reluctant to say anything at the time because he didn't want people to be afraid to share information with TechCrunch.