Charges Pinned on Brooks, Editor of News of the World
This is yet another installment in the News of the World phone hacking saga. Since this story began several months ago, its influence has been felt by newspapers and regular people all over the world. What does this mean for newspaper outlets and reporters and their investigative methods? Will the law take further steps to ensure our protection from prying eyes?
Rebekah Brooks is a former editor in the News of the World newspaper. Today, British prosecutors said she is now being charged with attempted obstruction of an ongoing police investigation concerning the News of the World phone hacking. News of the World is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a news media giant. He too is being investigated.
Brook has been accused of attempting to remove boxes full of important documents from the offices of News International, the corporation that owns News of the World. It has not been said yet what exactly those papers concern, but it can be assumed that they are somehow related to the phone hacking. She also attempted to hide computers and their data from police officers during their investigation.
She is not the only one facing these charges. Her husband, personal assistant and driver will also be charged with the same crimes she is. Additionally, one of her security guards who worked with her at News International and News of the World is being charged.
This is the first time in this investigation that police and lawyers have been able to pin charges on a specific person in relation to the phone hacking scandal. The investigation has been going on for over a year, while the hacking is believed to have gone all the way back to 2002.
The maximum sentence for the charges they face is life in prison, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
A spokesman for Brooks said she and her husband “deplore this weak and unjust decision,” and accused prosecutors of “unprecedented posturing.” Spokesman David Wilson said there would be a fuller statement later.
Separately, police announced they had arrested two more people Tuesday in connection with the bribery investigation. The man and woman were arrested at their home in London, police said.
The arrests were based on information provided by News Corp., police said.
Brooks faces three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Her husband, Charles, and the other suspects face two counts each of the same charge.
Brooks became chief executive of News International after editing two Murdoch tabloids, the News of the World and the Sun. She resigned last summer and was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice in March.
Alison Levitt of the Crown Prosecution Service said Tuesday that prosecutors felt there was “a realistic prospect of conviction” of the six suspects.
Police gave prosecutors files on seven suspects in March. Levitt said prosecutors had decided not to press charges against one of them.
Police opened investigations into phone hacking, computer hacking and bribery of public officials last year and have arrested dozens of people.
Following Tuesday’s announcement, 40 other people are waiting for police to decide whether to recommend that prosecutors press charges for phone hacking or corruption.
Three people have been arrested and released, with police saying they will take no further action, in addition to the man told by prosecutors Tuesday that they would not press charges.