FORMER Sun editor Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister’s former spin doctor, are among eight people facing charges in connection with phone hacking.
• Eight people will face a total of 19 charges relating to phone hacking
The alleged victims include murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, Holywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, John Prescott, Sir Paul McCartney and footballer Wayne Rooney.
Unlawful interception carries a maximum two-year sentence, a fine, or both.
Ms Brooks and Mr Coulson have both issued defiant statements insisting that they are innocent. However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) believes it has enough evidence to secure convictions.
The others facing charges are Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw, Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup, all formerly of the now-defunct News of the World, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
Apart from Mr Mulcaire, all the accused face one general
allegation of phone hacking between October 2000 and August 2006 which, it is claimed, targeted more than 600 people.
Within an hour of the CPS announcing the charges, a “distressed and angry” Ms Brooks
issued her own statement.
She said: “I am not guilty of these charges. I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship. The charge concerning Milly Dowler is particularly upsetting. Not only as it is untrue, but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime.”
Mr Coulson was equally emphatic. Squinting in the sunshine outside his home in south-east London, he said: “I am extremely disappointed by the CPS decision. I will fight these
allegations when they eventually get to court.
“I would like to say one thing about the Milly Dowler allegation. Anyone who knows me, or who worked with me, would know that I wouldn’t – and more importantly that I didn’t –do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation.”
Prosecutors will take no further action against three other people, who are understood to be freelance journalist Terenia Taras, former News of the World reporter Ross Hall, and Raoul
Simons, formerly of the Evening Standard. Police have asked for more time to investigate two more suspects.
Alison Levitt, QC, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said a list of all the alleged victims would be published once they had all been contacted.
“All the evidence has now carefully been considered,” Ms Levitt said. “I have concluded that, in relation to eight of these 13 suspects, there is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to one or more offences.”
Mr Edmondson, who was first arrested in April last year, said he only learned he would be charged when he saw news
“I have much to say on this subject, and I now look forward to saying it. I will clear my name at trial when the truth finally emerges.”
In a statement, Mr Thurlbeck added: “I am most surprised and disappointed in the outcome.
“I have always operated under the strict guidance and advice of News International’s lawyers and under the instructions of the newspaper’s editors, which will be abundantly clear when this matter comes to court.”
All eight facing charges will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 16 August.