The former head of News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper business Rebekah Brooks has been formally charged in the phone-hacking scandal that took the popular News of the World down.
The U.K.'s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) today announced that it has charged Brooks with three counts of "conspiracy to pervert the course of justice." CPS claims that last July, Brooks "conspired" with her husband, chauffeur, and others to "conceal documents, computers, and other electronic equipment from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service." CPS also charged Brooks and her assistant with "permanently" removing seven boxes from the News International archive.
Aside from Brooks, her husband, Charles Brooks, assistant Cheryl Carter, and Paul Edwards, her chauffeur, have all been charged. In total, six individuals have been cited in the CPS announcement. A seventh individual, who was not named, will not be charged, CPS said. All of those charged have been ordered to answer their bail today.
"May I remind all concerned that these six individuals now will be charged with criminal offenses and that each has a right to a fair trial," Alison Levitt, Principal Legal Advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions, said today in a statement. "It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."
Last year's scandal, in which the newspaper was accused of hacking cell phones in order to dig up news, left News Corp. on the ropes and forced the company to shutter the epicenter of the controversy, News of the World. Soon after the scandal broke, Brooks was arrested in connection with the phone-hacking scandal. Prior to her arrest, she stepped down as chief executive of News Corp. newspaper unit News International, saying publicly that she felt a "deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt."
Brooks was arrested again back in March following "suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice." Today's charges are now the next step in a process that could lead to a trial.
Next up, Brooks and her fellow defendants are expected to appear before a Westminster Magistrates' Court. The date of that hearing is yet to be determined.