Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News Corp‘s News International and a one-time editor of the News Of The World, will face charges in connection with phone-hacking, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service announced this morning. Andy Coulson, the former News Of The World editor who went on to be Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director, will also face charges. Along with a group of former News Of The World journalists, they are each charged with “conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from 3rd October 2000 to 9th August 2006. The communications in question are the voicemail messages of well-known people and/or those associated with them,” said the CPS. Those well-known people include Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Sadie Frost, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. In all, there are more than 600 people whom the prosecution will say are victims of the offense. Brooks is specifically facing charges relating to the alleged hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone as are a number of the other former journalists. The full list of charges can be read here. In total, eight people learned they would be charged today, while the CPS found insufficient evidence in the case of three other suspects. Decisions regarding two other suspects were deferred.
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.