UPDATE: At 10 AM London time, the official announcement came down that the former News International CEO will face charges of perverting the course of justice. The Guardian newspaper, which broke the scandal wide open with its reporting, is quoting the Crown Prosecution Service as saying this morning that Rebekah Brooks, her racehorse trainer husband, and four others will be charged in the phone-hacking inquiry that rocked media and showbiz. “She faces three charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice including the alleged removal of seven cases of material from the archive of News International and the alleged concealment of documents and computers from officers investigating phone hacking. Brooks was arrested in March by Scotland Yard police officers investigating phone hacking. She is the first person to face charges in the major criminal investigation into hacking and allegations of bribing public officials.”

Alison Levitt QC, the principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, announced the decision in a televised statement read out at CPS headquarters “in the interests of transparency and accountability to explain the decisions reached”. She said prosecutors had applied the tests required and found that there was sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution was required in the public interest. According to the Guardian, in a statement minutes before the official announcement from the CPS, Brooks (a protogee of Rupert Murdoch) and her husband (a pal of the British prime minister) said: “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.” The significance of today’s development is not only because of Brooks’ closeness with the News Corp Chairman (often described as Rupert’s closest ‘daughter’) but also the suddenness of her downfall after a meteoric rise from showbiz reporter to News International’s chief executive. The charges are as follows:

• That Rebekah Brooks between 6 July and 19 July 2011 conspired with her husband Charles Brooks, her former PA Cheryl Carter, News International’s head of security Mark Hanna, News International chauffeur Paul Edwards, security consultant Daryl Jorsling, and persons unknown to conceal material from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service.

• That Rebekah Brooks and Cheryl Carter between July 6th and July 9th, 2011, conspired together permanently to remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International.

• That Rebekah Brooks, Charles Brooks, Mark Hanna, Paul Edwards and Daryl Jorsling conspired together and with persons unknown, between July 16th and July 19, 2011, to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service.