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More charges filed in phone-hacking probe

Nov. 20, 2012 at 9:07 AM   |   Comments

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LONDON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Two people central to the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed Britain were charged Tuesday over alleged corrupt payments to public officials by journalists.

Former News International editor Rebekah Brooks was charged for allegedly making payments of nearly $160,000 to a Defense Ministry employee, while Andy Coulson was charged for allegedly paying for an internal Buckingham Palace telephone directory, The Guardian reported.

Coulson has denied the charges, saying he was "disappointed" with the prosecutors' decision.

"I deny the allegations made against me and will fight the charges in court," Coulson said in a statement.

Brooks' lawyers said their client likely wouldn't make a statement Tuesday.

Others charged include Jay West, a reporter for The Sun; Clive Goodman, former News of the World royal correspondent; and Bettina Jordan Barber, a Defense Ministry employee who allegedly received payments from The Sun during a seven-year period.

The bribery allegations faced by Brooks span her tenure as editor of The Sun and her time as chief executive officer for News International, media mogul Rupert Murdoch's overall publishing operation.

Brooks and Coulson have been charged before in the phone hacking scandal that led to the shuttering of the News of the World, as well as the arrests of editors, reporters and public officials. Their alleged targets included Labor Party Cabinet ministers, sports personalities, celebrities and slain teenager Milly Dowler.

Coulson was a one-time communications manager for Prime Minister David Cameron, whose office said in a statement, "It would be inappropriate to comment for legal reasons. Proceedings are active."

The five were arrested and charged as part of Operation Elveden, a police investigation launched in 2011 to investigate alleged corrupt payments by newspapers to police officers and other public officials, The Guardian said. So far, police have detained 52 people, of whom 21 are journalists at The Sun.

In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service said, "All of these matters were considered carefully in accordance with the [Director of Public Prosecutions'] guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media. This guidance asks prosecutors to consider whether the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings."

London's metropolitan police said the investigations triggered by the phone-hacking scandal may last another three years.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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