Rebekah Brooks faces phone-hacking charges

May 15, 2012 at 7:34 AM
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LONDON, May 15 (UPI) -- Former British newspaper editor Rebekah Brooks faces charges of trying to obstruct a police investigation into phone hacking at the publication she ran.

Prosecutors Tuesday accused Brooks, a former editor of the defunct News of the World, of conspiring to remove boxes of documents from offices of the tabloid's parent company, News International, and hide computers and documents from police, CNN reported.

She faces three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Her husband, Charles Brooks, a personal assistant and driver also were notified they'd be charged, as well as a security guard and the head of security for News International, the News Corp. subsidiary that publishes British newspapers within the media empire of Rupert Murdoch.

Alison Levitt, principle legal adviser for the Crown Prosecution Service's director of public prosecutions, said prosecutors think they have enough evidence "for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction," The Guardian reported in its live blog of events.

"I have concluded that a prosecution is required in the public interest," Levitt said.

In a statement Rebekah and Charles Brooks said they were notified of the charges before the Crown Prosecution Service revealed them.

"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," the couple's statement said. "We deplore this weak and unjust decision."

Brooks and the others named Tuesday were the first people charged in the British police investigation into phone hacking and police bribery, which has been going on for more than a year.

Separately, police said Tuesday they arrested two suspects in its Operation Elveden investigation into allegations of illegal payments to public officials, The Guardian said. The arrests were made after material was turned over to the police by News Corp.'s management and standards committee.

Rebekah Brooks, 43, was twice arrested and questioned by police in the case -- in July 2011 on suspicion of corruption and conspiring to illegally eavesdrop and two months ago on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

She is free on bail and testified before the British government's Leveson Inquiry into media ethics Friday.

Despite resigning from her position, Brooks remains on the News Corp. payroll.

The phone hacking scandal erupted last July after revelations the now-shuttered News of the World breached voice mail accounts of a 13-year-old murder victim, relatives of fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, celebrities, sports figures and others.

The scandal expanded into investigations of other NI Group newspapers, including The Sun, which Rebekah Brooks also formerly edited, and The Times, Murdoch's flagship London newspaper.

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