Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage:
Tonight’s Scotland Yard development was expected. Rebekah Brooks will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 3rd. The police statement lists Brooks as “unemployed”. The 44-year-old executive who ran Rupert Murdoch‘s UK newspaper business and top-edited the News Of the World answered bail at Lewisham police station. She stands accused of one general charge of alleged phone hacking between October 2000 and August 2006 that could affect as many as 600 victims including famous television and film stars including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Sienna Miller, and Sadie Frost. The charges place Brooks at the center of the Crown Prosecution Service’s case against the defunct News Of The World tabloid. Brooks also faces specific charges of illegally accessing the mobile phone voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
In a statement issued last month, Brooks insisted she was innocent: “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.” Brooks is already facing three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, linked to the investigation into phone hacking. Besides Brooks, six more executives or journalists from Murdoch’s operations, including British Prime Minister David Cameron’s former spin doctor Andy Coulson, have been officially charged and will appear at the same court on August 16th.
Brooks was arrested last year on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of corruption. Earlier this year, she was again arrested on allegedly conspiring to pervert the course of justice, In May, she became the first person to be charged in the scandal. A hearing on that charge is set for September 26. Coulson was arrested in July last year in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking. Today’s decisions on the phone-hacking charges stem from prosecutors’ broad interpretation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which covers phone hacking, the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, told The Guardian earlier this month. Under that basis, and in order to bring a criminal prosecution, it would not be absolutely necessary for a voicemail message to have been hacked into by, or on behalf of, the News Of The World before it had been heard by the intended recipient.