Phone Hacking: Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson Face Criminal Charges

 Indigo/Getty Images

LONDON -- Rebekah Brooks, ex-CEO of News Corp.'s embattled News International U.K. newspaper arm and longtime Rupert Murdoch ally learned Tuesday she will be charged in relation to phone hacking.

Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor and former aide to the prime minister David Cameron is also facing charges in relation to phone hacking.

The duo are among eight people the prosecutors said Tuesday would be charged.

Both ex-News International chief Brooks and the PM's former aide Coulson will face charges in connection with phone hacking, including the phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to formally charge the duo Tuesday with charges also being brought against Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the News of the World, Ian Edmondson, former news editor, Greg Miskiw another former news editor, Neville Thurlbeck, former chief reporter, James Weatherup, former assistant news editor, and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

Alison Levitt QC, principal legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions, announced the decision on Tuesday.

She said the charges related to allegations of phone hacking from Oct. 3, 2000 to August 2006.

The CPS will bring 19 charges in all, and say that 600 people were victims, ranging from victims of crime to politicians and celebrities.

Levitt said: "All, with the exception of Glenn Mulcaire, will be charged with conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from 3 Oct. 2000 to 9 August 2006."

Added Levitt: "The communications in question are the voicemail messages of well-known people and/or those associated with them. There is a schedule containing the names of over 600 people whom the prosecution will say are the victims of this offence."

The CPS said victims included various politicians including the former home secretaries David Blunkett and Charles Clarke and also celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Brad PittJude Law, Sadie Frost, Sienna Miller, Delia Smith and Calum Best.

The allegations that Dowler's phone was hacked led to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp publishing division News International taking the decision to shutter the News of the World.

Charged specifically in relation to the Dowler phone-hack are Coulson, Brooks, Kuttner, Miskiw, Thurlbeck, and Mulcaire.

Said Brooks in a statement: "I am not guilty of these charges. I did not authorize, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship. I am distressed and angry that the CPS have reached this decision when they knew all the facts and were in a position to stop the case at this stage."

Added Brooks: "The charge concerning Milly Dowler is particularly upsetting not only as it is untrue but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime. I will vigorously defend these allegations.

Coulson also issued a statement: "I am extremely disappointed by the CPS decision today. I will fight these allegations when they eventually get to court."

"I would like to say one thing today about the Milly Dowler allegation. Anyone who knows me, or who worked with me, would know that I wouldn't, and more importantly that I didn't, do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation," he said Tuesday afternoon.

"At 'The News of the World' we worked on behalf of the victims of crime, particularly violent crime, and the idea that I would sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations is simply untrue."

He ended with: "That's all I've got to say today."

On Monday, police said they believed there were 4,775 potential victims of phone hacking, of whom 2,615 had been notified.

The Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner, Sue Akers, told the Leveson inquiry her force had notified more than 702 people who were "likely" to have been victims.

The CPS has received files from the Metropolitan Police's Operation Weeting team covering 13 individuals, including 11 journalists from the News of the World and Mulcaire.

To bring charges, the CPS must be satisfied that prosecution is in the public interest.

The Met says it launched Operation Weeting after receiving "significant new information" from News International on Jan. 26 last year. A total of 24 people including 15 current and former journalists have been arrested as part of the operation.

Operation Weeting is one of three separate investigations with Operation Elveden investigating alleged corrupt payments made to police officers and other public officials and Operation Tuleta which is investigating the scale of computer hacking and other breaches of privacy.

A trial date is yet to be announced.

Brooks is already facing charges of conspiring to "pervert the course of justice" in the case related to the phone hacking scandal.

She will plead guilty or not guilty to those charges on Sept. 26 this year.

comments powered by Disqus