Brooks charged in hacking scandal

Rebekah Brooks came out fighting as she became one of the first suspects to be prosecuted over the phone-hacking scandal.

The former News International chief executive, her husband — former racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks — and four others will appear in court accused of plotting to hide evidence.

Mr and Mrs Brooks branded the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision as “weak and unjust” as they arrived at London police stations to be charged by detectives.

Rebekah Brooks faces three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, including that she removed boxes of material from the News International archive and tried to conceal documents, computers and other material from the multimillion-pound Scotland Yard inquiry.

One charge is thought to relate to a computer, paperwork and a mobile phone found in a bag in a bin near the Brooks’s Chelsea Harbour home the day after she had been arrested for alleged phone hacking in July last year.

Lawyers acting for the Crown Prosecution Service are understood to have viewed CCTV footage seized by police while making a decision to bring charges.

Mr Brooks; Ms Brooks’ personal assistant Cheryl Carter; Mark Hanna, head of security at News International; Ms Brooks’ chauffeur Paul Edwards, and security consultant Daryl Jorsling, face single counts of conspiring with her.

Alison Levitt, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, said there was “sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction”.

But Mr and Mrs Brooks released a joint statement expressing their anger before arriving separately at London police stations from their Oxfordshire home.

“We deplore this weak and unjust decision,” they said.

Ms Carter, who is accused of conspiring with Ms Brooks to remove seven boxes of material from the company’s archive, “vigorously denies” the allegation.

Solicitor Henri Brandman said: “Cheryl Carter understands that she is to be charged today with attempting to pervert the course of justice. She vigorously denies the commission of that or any offence.

“She would like to thank her family and friends for their continued support during this most unhappy period of her life.”

Charges against one suspect, a security consultant, were dropped as part of the review of evidence by lawyers since detectives handed over the file on March 27.

But Ms Levitt said a prosecution “is required in the public interest in relation to each of the other six”.

Announcing the decision at the CPS headquarters in London, she said: “All seven suspects have this morning been informed of my decisions.”

* The first charge against Ms Brooks details that, between July 6 and 19 last year, she conspired with her husband, Ms Carter, Mr Hanna, Mr Edwards, MrJorsling and “persons unknown” to conceal material from officers.

* Ms Brooks and Ms Carter are also said to have “conspired together permanently” between July 6 and 9 last year to remove seven boxes of material from the News International archive.

* Ms Brooks, Mr Brooks, Mr Hanna, Mr Edwards and Mr Jorsling areall named on the third indictment, accused of conspiring together between July 15 and 19 of the same year to “conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment”.

Ms Levitt added: “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.”

All six will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on a date to be determined.

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 latest arrests took place yesterday and involved a 50-year-old tax official and a 43-year-old woman, detained at the same address in London by detectives investigating corrupt payments to public officials.

Yesterday’s decision to bring charges comes just days after Ms Brooks lifted the lid on her close relationship with the British prime minister at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

But David Cameron’s official spokesman declined to discuss the charges, saying it would be “improper” for him to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Ms Brooks became one of the most high-profile figures in the newspaper industry.

She became News of the World editor in 2000 aged 31, landed the top job at The Sun in 2003, and was appointed chief executive of News International in 2009 before quitting in July last year.

Days later she was arrested over alleged phone-hacking and corruption, offences for which she remains on bail without charge.

Ms Brooks was arrested again in March in connection with the separate perverting the course of justice allegation, with her husband and four others.

Charlie Brooks has been a columnist for the Daily Telegraph as well as writing a novel entitled Citizen.


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