Rebekah Brooks is enraged by perversion of justice charges

 

A year ago, Rebekah Brooks was arguably the most powerful woman in the country. As chief executive of News International, she oversaw The Sun, the News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times, was feted by her proprietor Rupert Murdoch and even received messages from David Cameron, signed "lol", for "lots of love".

In four weeks, she will appear in the dock of Westminster Magistrates Court charged with three counts of conspiring to pervert justice, an offence which carries a theoretical maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Mrs Brooks and her husband Charlie – an Eton contemporary and friend of the Prime Minister – are accused of taking part in a cover-up during the peak of the phone-hacking scandal last summer.

Four associates of the 43-year-old Mrs Brooks (see panel, below) are also charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. They will appear with Mr and Mrs Brooks at a preliminary court hearing on 13 June.

The charges, announced yesterday, are the first in the deepening scandal for six years, since police arrested the News of the World's royal reporter Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire in August 2006.

News International moved quickly into damage-limitation mode. Tom Mockridge told staff in an email that it was "a difficult period", adding: "I am deeply grateful for your continued professionalism and commitment." The newspaper group has spent more than £53m on its own investigation, mostly on legal and professional fees, it emerged.

More than 40 other people – including Andy Coulson, Mr Cameron's former communications director – remain on bail as part of Scotland Yard's operations into phone hacking, computer hacking and corruption.

On 4 July 2011, The Guardian caused public outrage by revealing that the News of the World had hacked into the phone of the missing schoolgirl, Milly Dowler. On 17 July, Mrs Brooks, who had resigned as chief executive of News International two days earlier, was arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and corruption. She remains on police bail in relation to those potential offences.

The conspiracy to pervert the course of justice charges cover the period between 6 July and 19 July last year.

Between 6 and 9 July last year, Mrs Brooks and Ms Carter, her PA and the former beauty editor of The Sun, are said to have "conspired together permanently to remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International".

Between 6 and 19 July, Mrs Brooks is accused of conspiring with her husband Charlie, and Ms Carter, Mr Hanna, Mr Edwards, Mr Jorsling and persons unknown "to conceal material from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service".

In the final count, covering 15 to 19 July 2011, Mrs Brooks, her husband Charlie, Mr Hanna, Mr Edwards and Mr Jorsling are said to have conspired together and with persons unknown, to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from the Met.

Mrs Brooks, who joined News International as a secretary 20 years ago, said: "I feel today is an attempt to use me and others as scapegoats, the effect of which will be to ratchet up pressure on my wife, who I believe is also the subject of a witch-hunt."

She added she was "baffled" by the decision to charge her. "One day the details of this case will emerge and people will see today as nothing more than an expensive sideshow. I can't express my anger enough that those closest to me have been dragged into this unfairly," she said.

Henri Brandman, solicitor for Ms Carter, said his client "vigorously denies" the allegations. Mr Hanna, who was based at News International's headquarters in east London, said: "I will be totally exonerated." The defendants' trial is expected to take place at the end of this year or in early 2013.

Meanwhile, at the Leveson Inquiry, Sky News political editor Adam Boulton recounted hearing about a No 10 pyjama party in 2008, attended by Rupert Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng and organised by Gordon Brown's wife Sarah. He said it was "bonkers".

On her case: The lawyer who charged Brooks

Alison Levitt, the lawyer who took the decision to charge Rebekah Brooks, is in charge of overseeing all the cases in the inquiries, which are likely to comprise phone hacking, computer hacking and corruption of public officials.

Ms Levitt, principal legal adviser to the Crown Prosecution Service, has two advantages in doing so: her long experience and her previous lack of entanglement in the story.

Until late 2010, the Crown Prosecution Service had an inglorious role in the affair. Arguably it asked too few questions of the Metropolitan Police's criminal inquiry in 2006 and 2007, and in 2009, when fresh questions were raised about that investigation, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, issued a narrow interpretation of the law which he reversed a year later.

In January 2011, when Mr Starmer asked Ms Levitt to review the historic material about phone hacking held by Scotland Yard, he stressed that she had no previous involvement in the case. Called to the bar in 1988, Ms Levitt became a recorder, a part-time judge, in 2007 and a QC in 2008.

The accused...

Charlie Brooks

"I feel today is an attempt to use me and others as scapegoats, the effect of which is to ratchet up the pressure on my wife, who I believe is the subject of a witch hunt.

There are 172 police officers, about the equivalent of eight murder squads, working on this; so it doesn't surprise me that the pressure is on to prosecute, no matter how weak the cases will be.

I am confident that the lack of evidence against me will be borne out in court, but I have grave doubts that my wife will ever get a fair trial, given the volume of biased commentary which she has been subject to.

We look forward to fighting this in court."

Rebekah Brooks

"Whilst I have always respected the criminal justice system, you have to question whether this decision has been made on a proper impartial assessment of the evidence.

Although I understand the need for a thorough investigation, I am baffled by the decision to charge me. However I cannot express my anger enough that those close to me have unfairly been dragged into this.

As the details of the case emerge people will see today as an expensive sideshow, and a waste of public money as a result of this weak and unjust decision."

Also charged: The other accused

Cheryl Carter, 47, is the former personal assistant to Rebekah Brooks. She was with her at News International for 19 years.

Daryl Josling provided personal security to Rebekah Brooks. He worked freelance as part of a personal security team employed by NI.

Paul Edwards was Mrs Brooks's chauffeur at News International and is still an employee of NI.

Mark Hanna is head of group security at NI.

NI confirmed that the two employees charged had been suspended on full pay while the criminal cases are ongoing and the company will continue to provide them with legal support.

Revenue and Customs official arrested

An employee of HM Revenue and Customs was arrested yesterday by police investigating corrupt payments to public officials.

The 50-year-old man, who is understood to be the first employee from the HMRC to be arrested as part of the Scotland Yard investigation, was detained at his north-west London home along with a 43-year-old woman.

The pair were arrested as a result of information passed to detectives by News Corp's Management Standards Committee, the body set up by Rupert Murdoch's media empire to carry out internal investigations into The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.

Operation Elveden has so far arrested 29 people, including 12 current and former members of The Sun staff detained on suspicion of bribing police officers and other public officials. Those arrested also include a Ministry of Defence employee and a serving member of the armed forces.

Cahal Milmo

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell