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12:16pm UK, Tuesday May 15, 2012
News International’s former chief executive Rebekah Brooks has been charged over allegations she attempted to cover up illegal phone-hacking activities and corrupt payments to public officials.
Brooks, who was News Of The World editor when the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone were intercepted, faces three charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Her husband, racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks, has been charged with two counts of the same offence.
Four other people, including News International’s head of security, Mark Hanna, and Rebekah Brooks’ former PA Cheryl Carter, also face counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Rebekah Brooks married horserace trainer Charlie in 2009
The decision was announced by the director of public prosecutions’ principal legal advisor, Alison Levitt QC, who said: “All the evidence has now carefully been considered.
“I have concluded that in relation to all suspects, except the seventh, there is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction.”
The charges include conspiring to conceal material from Scotland Yard detectives, conspiring to remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International and conspiring to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from detectives.
Ms Levitt said: “All these matters relate to the ongoing police investigation into allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials in relation to the News Of The World and The Sun newspapers.”
Rebekah Brooks and her husband released a statement condemning the decision to charge them.
The couple said: “We have this morning been informed by the Office of the Department of Public Prosecutions that we are to be charged with perverting the course of justice.
“We deplore this weak and unjust decision. After the further unprecedented posturing of the CPS we will respond later today after our return from the police station.”
The charges are the first to be brought following Scotland Yard’s multimillion-pound investigations into phone hacking, computer hacking and corruption, which have led to 50 arrests since they began in January last year.
The News of the World newspaper was closed after 168 years
Police launched Operation Weeting, the inquiry devoted specifically to phone hacking, after receiving “significant new information” from News International on January 26 last year.
Operation Elveden was launched months later after officers were given documents suggesting News International journalists made illegal payments to police officers.
Officers also launched three related operations: the Sasha Inquiry into allegations of perverting the course of justice; Kilo, an inquiry into police leaks; and Tuleta, the investigation into computer-related offences, as the inquiry escalated.
Metropolitan Police figures showed there were 829 potential victims of phone hacking, of whom 231 were said to be uncontactable.
The scandal has already led to the closure of the News of the World after 168 years, prompted a major public inquiry, and forced the resignation of Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and his assistant John Yates.
Rebekah Brooks and the others charged will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court in the coming days.
The decision from prosecutors comes just days after Mrs Brooks gave almost an entire day’s evidence at the Leveson Inquiry into media standards.