Senior journalists from the News of the World have been formally charged with phone hacking and will appear in court next month, Scotland Yard said tonight.
Of the eight people facing prosecution, including David Cameron’s former spin doctor Andy Coulson and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, seven have been officially charged.
Brooks is due to answer bail at a later date.
The charges are a potential blow for the Prime Minister, who employed Coulson as his press adviser following his resignation as editor of the News of the World (NOTW).
Seven staff members from the now-defunct tabloid are facing court action, along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
The seven stand accused of one general charge of alleged phone hacking between October 2000 and August 2006 that could affect as many as 600 victims.
Brooks and Coulson face specific charges of illegally accessing the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
In a statement, Brooks insisted she was innocent, adding: “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.”
Speaking outside his home in south east London, Coulson said he would fight the charges in court.
He said: “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.
“The idea that I would sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations is simply untrue.”
The other former NOTW staff who face court action are ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, ex-chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former reporter James Weatherup.
All except Brooks are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on August 16.
The CPS today told former News of the World journalist Ross Hall, who wrote under the name Ross Hindley, freelance journalist Terenia Taras, and former Evening Standard sports reporter Raoul Simons that no further action will be taken against them.
A decision has yet to be made in relation to another two people, legal adviser Alison Levitt QC said.
Thurlbeck said he will “vigorously fight” to clear his name.
He said: “I have always operated under the strict guidance and advice of News International’s lawyers and under the instructions of the newspaper’s editors, which will be abundantly clear when this matter comes to court.
“I will vigorously fight to clear my reputation.”
Edmondson, who was first arrested in April last year, said he learned he would be charged only when he saw news reports of the CPS press conference this morning.
He said: “For the past 18 months my family and I have suffered in silence. I have not given interviews or spoken out in order to get my points across or to correct reported lies or inaccuracies.
“I have much to say on this subject and I now look forward to saying it. I will clear my name at trial when the truth finally emerges.”
Kuttner’s solicitor Anthony Burton said: “Stuart Kuttner utterly refutes the charges preferred against him today.
“At no time, as he has repeatedly made clear to the police and to the CPS, has he been involved in the unlawful interception of communications. He will plead not guilty and strenuously contests all of these charges.”
Brooks is already facing three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, linked to the investigation into phone hacking.
She and five others, including her racehorse trainer husband Charlie, who faces one count of the same offence, are due to appear at Southwark Crown Court in London on September 26.
Before now, only two people have been charged with phone hacking.