Ex-Murdoch editor Brooks charged
16 May 2012, 09:46
London - British prosecutors accused former Rupert Murdoch aide Rebekah
Brooks and five others of obstructing justice on Tuesday in the first
criminal charges from the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
ex-News International (NI) chief executive, her husband Charlie Brooks
and four people who worked for her were charged with trying to hide
evidence from police investigating wrongdoing at the now-closed tabloid.
aged 43, and her husband, aged 49, who is a former racehorse trainer
and schoolfriend of Prime Minister David Cameron, said the decision was
"weak and unjust".
Senior prosecutor Alison Levitt said in a
television statement that there was "sufficient evidence for there to be
a realistic prospect of conviction" in six cases of conspiracy to
pervert the course of justice.
The charges are a stunning fall
from grace for the woman who started on the bottom rung of Murdoch's
empire more than two decades ago but eventually became so close to him
that she was dubbed his "fifth daughter".
with her shock of flame-red hair, Brooks also moved in the highest
circles of British politics, and testified to a press ethics inquiry
just last week about her close relationship with Cameron.
others to be charged are Cheryl Carter, Rebekah Brooks's personal
assistant; Mark Hanna, head of security at NI; Brooks's chauffeur Paul
Edwards, who was employed by NI, and Daryl Jorsling, who provided
security for Brooks that was supplied by NI.
All six are due to appear in court in London at a later date, Levitt said.
The maximum sentence for perverting the course of justice is life imprisonment, but jail terms are normally far shorter.
and Charlie Brooks condemned the charges - and effectively broke the
news of them by releasing a statement several minutes before prosecutors
officially announced them.
"We deplore this weak and unjust
decision. After the further unprecedented posturing of the CPS (Crown
Prosecution Service) we will respond later today after our return from
the police station," the couple said.
Brooks was charged with
conspiring to conceal material from Scotland Yard officers between 6
July and 18 July 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal, prosecutor
Brooks and Carter were
charged with conspiring to remove seven boxes of material from the
archives of News International, the British newspaper wing of Murdoch's
US-based News Corporation empire, between the same dates.
five except Carter were also charged with conspiring to "conceal
documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers of the
Metropolitan Police Service" between 15 and 19 July 2011.
A seventh person arrested has been released without charge.
Brooks and her husband were arrested in March over the allegations.
was initially arrested in July over separate allegations of phone
hacking and bribing public officials, and she remains on police bail for
Brooks resigned as head of News International
in July in the wake of her arrest and of the closure of the News of the
World, amid public revulsion that it had hacked the phone of a murdered
The charges announced on Tuesday are the first since
Scotland Yard opened a huge new investigation into hacking and bribery
in which more than 40 people have been arrested.
Rise to the top
News of the World journalist and a private detective were jailed for
hacking in 2007 but the paper insisted they were rogue operators.
arrests continued on Tuesday, with police detaining a British customs
official and a woman in a dawn raid on a house in northwest London as
part of the bribery probe.
Brooks started work at the News of the
World in 1989 at the age of 20 and became editor of Britain's
biggest-selling newspaper in 2000 aged 31, running a series of
controversial campaigns including one to "name and shame" paedophiles.
2003, she became the first female editor of The Sun, the News of the
World's sister paper, and in 2009, she became chief executive of NI.
But it was her access to British politicians that has raised question about the influence of Murdoch's empire.
Cameron and Charlie Brooks were schoolfriends at the elite Eton college and he attended the Brooks's wedding in 2009.