Brooks, Coulson Among Those Charged With Phone Hacking

Eight Former News Corp. Journalists Face Charges in News of the World Scandal

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Rebekah Brooks
Rebekah Brooks
Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, former lead editors of the News of the World tabloid in Britain, were among eight of News Corp.'s ex-journalists charged with hacking into celebrities' voicemail to get stories.

The two former editors of the paper were charged with multiple hacking offenses, including accessing the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002, the Crown Prosecution Service said today. According to The Wall Street Journal, eight people face charges of conspiracy to "intercept communications related to incidents that range from October 2000 to August 2006."

In 2007, Mr. Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World after one of his reporters was jailed for phone hacking. He went on to become press chief for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who said before hiring him that he'd demanded and received an assurance at a face-to face meeting that Mr. Coulson had known nothing about illegality. Mr. Coulson resigned that position last year.

In May, Ms. Brooks, 43, was charged for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Ms. Brooks' husband, Charlie, a racehorse trainer, was also charged.

Ms. Brooks conspired "to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service," and "permanently to remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International" in the police investigations into phone hacking and bribery of public officials by journalists at the News of the World and the Sun tabloids, prosecutors said.

The scandal erupted last summer, when The Guardian reported that the News of the World hacked the mobile-phone voicemail of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered. Outrage over that and other cases prompted News Corp. to abruptly close News of the World and drop a $12.5 billion bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group. James Murdoch resigned as BSkyB chairman in April.

About 60 people have been arrested since the police investigations began last year. News Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch stepped down from the News International board last week in what the company is calling standard "housecleaning." Murdoch's retreat follows his son James who left his position as head of News International this year to assume the deputy operating chief role in New York.

The company has also agreed, under shareholder pressure, to split into two publicly traded entities -- separating the troubled newspaper assets from the more lucrative television and entertainment business. Rupert Murdoch is slated to be chairman of both units.

News Corp. is working to stem the damages from hacking and is working to resolve about 50 combined civil lawsuits before a trial scheduled for February. A trial earlier this year was canceled after an initial group of test lawsuits was settled.

News International lawyer Michael Silverleaf said last week that about 250 alleged victims have sought out-of -court settlements with the company, using a procedure it created and that 's overseen by a former judge. He said about 79 deals have been reached and they aren't part of the current case.

-- Bloomberg News

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