UK & World News
Phone Hacking: Brooks And Coulson Charged
Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson are among eight people facing charges over phone hacking, the Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed.
Brooks, former editor of the News Of The World (NOTW) and The Sun, is being charged in relation to the alleged accessing of murdered Milly Dowler's phone messages.
Coulson, who quit as David Cameron's chief spin doctor in January 2011 and also used to edit the NOTW, is also accused in relation to allegedly hacking into the schoolgirl's phone.
Both Brooks and Coulson denied the allegations after the announcement, with Brooks saying she was "distressed and angry" and Coulson telling reporters he would never have attempted to undermine the Milly Dowler investigation.
Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and a series of former NOTW staff are also facing charges as part of Operation Weeting. In all, the group faces†19 charges.†
They include ex-NOTW managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson and former reporter James Weatherup.
Neville Thurlbeck, who was chief reporter of the now-defunct Sunday tabloid, faces charges in relation to victims including Milly Dowler, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and David Blunkett MP.
Thurlbeck said he was "most surprised and disappointed" about the charges and will "vigorously fight to clear my reputation".
John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture Select Committee, told Sky News he was "not wholly surprised" by the announcement.
"It's not a day which reflects well on politics or the press, but I think it's part of the process of ensuring that this never happens again," he said.
CPS legal adviser Alison Levitt QC said there was a "realistic prospect of conviction" in relation to eight of the 13 files passed to the CPS by police.
All of them apart from Mulcaire is charged with conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority between October 3, 2000, and August 9, 2006.
Prosecutors will claim that more than 600 people were victims of this offence.
Brooks is facing charges relating to illegally accessing the voicemails of Milly Dowler and former trade union boss Andrew Gilchrist.
The ex-chief executive of News International, which published the NOTW, said in a statement: "I am not guilty of these charges. I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship.
"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.
"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.
"I will vigorously defend these allegations."
In addition to the charge relating to Milly Dowler, Coulson is charged in relation to the phone hacking of David Blunkett, Charles Clarke and George Best's son Calum.
Coulson told reporters:†"I will fight these allegations when they eventually get to court.
"I would like to say one thing today about the Milly Dowler allegations - anyone who knows me or has worked with me would know that I wouldn't and more importantly that I didn't do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation.
"At the News Of The World we worked on behalf of the victims of crime... the idea that I would then sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations is simply untrue."
No further action will be taken in relation to three of the other suspects, and inquiries are continuing over two suspects.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "Everybody was very shocked at the revelations of the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone.
"I said at the time we needed to get to the bottom of what had happened.
"It is now right that justice takes its course. This is now a matter for the courts."