Brooks charged over phone hacking
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has been charged with perverting the course of justice over a phone hacking scandal at one of the group’s newspapers.
Mrs Brooks and her racehorse trainer husband Charlie, who was also charged, announced the development in a statement today in which they criticised the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service.
They 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.”
Mr Brooks said his wife had been subject to a “witchhunt” and that they and four other suspects charged today had been made “scapegoats” in the phone-hacking scandal.
Mrs Brooks said she was “baffled” by the decision to charge her, adding: “One day the details of this case will emerge and people will see today as nothing more than an expensive sideshow.”
Mrs Brooks added: “I can’t express my anger enough that those closest to me have been dragged into this unfairly.”
Alison Levitt, principal legal advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions, said she had concluded there was sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of a conviction.
A former secretary to Mrs Brooks and other staff from News International, including her driver and security officials from the British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp media empire, were also charged.
The maximum sentence for perverting the course of justice is life in prison but such a lengthy term would be highly unlikely.
The news is a personal blow for Mr Murdoch and also embarrassing for British prime minister David Cameron, who was close friends with Ms Brooks attended the exclusive Eton College with her husband.
Police restarted an investigation in January last year into claims journalists at Mr Murdoch's News of the World tabloid routinely hacked into the phones of celebrities, politicians and victims of crime to generate front page stories.
The phone-hacking scandal first broke six years ago when the royal correspondent from the News of the World, a Sunday tabloid, and a private detective were arrested and later jailed for hacking the phones of aides to the royal family.
News International maintained the practice was limited to one rogue reporter until that defence crumbled last year as detectives reopened their investigation amid claims their initial probe had been insufficient.
About 160 officers are examining claims that journalists at the News of the World routinely hacked into the phones of hundreds of celebrities, politicians and victims of crime to generate front-page stories.
They are also investigating whether staff hacked into computers and made illegal payments to public officials, including the police, to get ahead in their reporting.
Almost 50 people have been arrested, with a tax official and a woman the latest to be held by detectives this morning.