British prosecutors yesterday accused ex-Rupert Murdoch aide Rebekah Brooks and five others of obstructing justice in the first criminal charges to emerge from the News of the World hacking scandal.
The former News International (NI) chief, her husband, Charlie Brooks, and four people who worked for her were charged with trying to hide evidence from police investigating the interception of voicemails by the now-closed tabloid.
Brooks, 43, and her husband, who is a former racehorse trainer and schoolfriend of British Prime Minister David Cameron, criticized the “weak and unjust” decision.
Senior prosecutor Alison Levitt said there was “sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction” in the six cases, while a seventh person arrested had been released without charge.
The others to be charged are Cheryl Carter, Rebekah Brooks’s personal assistant; Mark Hanna, head of security at NI; Brooks’s chauffeur Paul Edwards, who was employed by NI, and Daryl Jorsling, who provided security for Brooks that was supplied by NI.
Levitt said all six were charged with conspiring “with persons unknown to conceal material from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service” between July 6 and July 19 last year, at the height of the hacking scandal.
Brooks and Carter were charged with conspiring to remove seven boxes of material from the archives of News International, the British newspaper wing of Murdoch’s US-based News Corp empire, between the same dates.
All five except Carter were also charged with conspiring to “conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service” between July 15 and 19 last year.
Brooks and her husband were arrested in March over the allegations. She was initially arrested in July last year over separate allegations of phone hacking and bribing public officials, and she remains on bail for those accusations.