Charges leveled against 8 in phone-hacking

July 24, 2012 at 8:54 AM
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LONDON, July 24 (UPI) -- Eight people, including British Prime Minister David Cameron's former communications chief Andy Coulson, face 19 phone-hacking related charges, officials said.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the charges include conspiring to intercept communications between Oct. 13, 2001, and Aug. 9, 2006. Coulson also is accused in the alleged hacking into slain schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone messages and three more charges, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Rebekah Brooks, who led the defunct News of The World when the phone-hacking scandal broke last year, faces two additional charges, one related to accessing Dowler's phone messages.

Brooks, in a statement, professed her innocence, The Guardian reported.

"I am not guilty of these charges.I did not authorize, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship," she said in the statement. "I am distressed and angry that the CPS have reached this decision when they knew all the facts and were in a position to stop the case at this stage. ... I will vigorously defend these allegations."

London's Metropolitan Police began an inquiry after details of phone hacking at the News of the World emerged last year. The tabloid, part of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire, was shuttered just days after the scandal came to light.

Crown Prosecution Service legal adviser Alison Levitt said she decided there was a "realistic prospect of conviction" of eight of the 13 files the Metropolitan Police passed on to prosecutors.

Prosecutors allege that more than 600 people, from government and political officials to luminaries in sports, entertainment and private citizens, were victimized by the phone hacking, the BBC said.

Brooks, Coulson, five former News of the World journalists and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire are charged in the phone-hacking scandal, The Guardian said.

The 19 charges allege various former News of the World employees intercepted "communications in the course of their transmission, without lawful authority, namely the voice mail messages."

Thirteen people were arrested in the fallout of the scandal. The Crown Prosecution Service said three people wouldn't face charges and that prosecutors deferred decisions on two other suspects.

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