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

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Chastain during an interview in Los Angeles.
filmsOscar hopeful Jessica Chastain reveals the secret to her breakthrough success
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
news
Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
Life and Style
tech

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker