Rupert Murdoch's finest brought to trial

Seven key News International lieutenants and one contracted private investigator face 19 phone-hacking charges involving 600 victims

David Cameron's former spin-doctor Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, were charged with phone-hacking crimes against hundreds of people yesterday, raising fresh questions over Scotland Yard's first inquiry into Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire.

Prosecutors announced that seven executives at the News of the World and the paper's private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, would face a total of 19 charges of conspiracy to hack mobile-phone voicemails.

Between 2000 and 2006, the journalists – who all held senior positions in Mr Murdoch's UK newspaper group – were alleged to have targeted 600 individuals.

They were also accused of conspiring to hack the phones of newsworthy individuals, including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – the first time the Hollywood stars have been officially identified as victims – the Labour MP David Blunkett and the cookery writer Delia Smith.

The film stars Jude Law, Sadie Frost and Sienna Miller, the former England football coach Sven Goran Eriksson and the Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney were also among 23 individuals named on the charge sheet.

All eight facing charges will appear at Westminster magistrates' court on 16 August, the Crown Prosecution Service said. Mr Coulson and Ms Brooks' charges are deeply embarrassing for the Prime Minister, as the three are close friends. The other executives – former news editors Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup and Ian Edmondson, the managing editor Stuart Kuttner and Neville Thurlbeck, the chief reporter – were the core of the News of the World's management for years.

The charges are the first prosecutions in connection with phone hacking at the News of the World for six years. They follow the launch last year of a new police investigation, Operation Weeting. After criticism of the original investigation, police officers justified their decision to prosecute only two individuals on the basis they could only prove hacking took place against a dozen victims. Now Scotland Yard is saying that there are at least 600.

In the most significant blow for Downing Street, Mr Coulson, Mr Cameron's director of communications until last January, is charged with conspiring to hack the phone of Milly Dowler. Ms Brooks, who edited the News of the World between 2000 and 2003, also faces the same charge.

The incendiary claim that the Sunday newspaper targeted the missing schoolgirl's mobile phone prompted public outrage and its closure last July.

Speaking outside his home in south-east London, Mr Coulson, who edited the NOTW between 2003 and 2007, said he was "extremely disappointed" by the allegations – which include that he conspired to hack the phones of Milly Dowler, the politicians David Blunkett and Charles Clarke, and the TV contestant Calum Best. Mr Coulson said that anyone who had worked with him would know that he "didn't do anything to damage the Dowler investigation".

Ms Brooks, who also faces a charge relating to the former Fire Brigades Union boss Andy Gilchrist, said: "I am not guilty of these charges." She added: "The charge concerning Milly Dowler is particularly upsetting not only as it is untrue but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime."

Saying he was "most surprised and disappointed", Mr Thurlbeck said he hoped to clear his reputation in court. In a statement, he said: "I have always operated under the guidance and advice of News International's lawyers and under the instructions of the newspaper's editors."

The charges appear to conclude the 19-month Operation Weeting led by Sue Akers, the Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner.

Following the conviction in 2007 for phone hacking of the News of the World's royal editor Clive Goodman, News International insisted that phone hacking was limited to one rogue reporter.

Announcing the charges at a press conference in London, the CPS's senior lawyer Alison Levitt, QC, said prosecutors had considered charges against 13 suspects.

She said she had concluded that, in relation to eight of those, "there is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction", and that a prosecution would be in the public interest. No further action will be taken against the former NOTW reporter Ross Hall, a sports reporter, Raoul Simons, and Terenia Taras, a former partner of Greg Miskiw.

Police have asked the CPS to defer making a decision over two remaining suspects who have been re-bailed while officers make further inquiries. The BBC said it understood they are the former NOTW deputy editor Neil Wallis and the former reporter Dan Evans.

The case to prove: How the law works

The charges are for conspiracy under the 1977 Criminal Law Act, with instances of law-breaking outlawed by the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

The charges are in two parts. Firstly, all seven journalists are charged with conspiring to hack the phones of 600 unnamed people. Secondly, together with Glenn Mulcaire, they are all charged with the same offence against a varying number of individuals within a pool of 23 named people. The Crown Prosecution Service will not have to prove that the defendants actually hacked phones, merely that they agreed, or plotted, to do so.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam