Murdoch Lieutenants Face Bribery Charges

Tuesday, 20 Nov 2012 10:58 AM

By Martin Gould

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Two of Rupert Murdoch’s top lieutenants are to be charged with bribery for their roles in the hacking scandal that has enveloped the British press.

Both Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks have close ties to Prime Minister David Cameron. Coulson was his communications secretary before resigning in January 2011, while Brooks is Cameron’s next-door neighbor and friend.

The two former executives, both 44, are to be charged with offering bribes of up to $160,000 and could face up to 10 years in prison, The New York Times reports.

Coulson, a former editor of the now-shuttered tabloid News of the World, faces two charges of bribery and says he will plead not guilty. Brooks, who edited both the News of the World and its sister paper The Sun, will be charged with conspiracy to bribe an official with the British Ministry of Defense $160,000 over seven years, the Times reports.

The two were among Murdoch’s closest confidantes in News International, the British arm of his sprawling worldwide media empire.

Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s former royal correspondent — who served time in jail in 2007 for intercepting cellphone messages — is also facing new conspiracy charges, British prosecutors announced on Tuesday.

“The allegations relate to the request and authorization of payments to public officials in exchange for information, including a palace phone directory known as the ‘Green Book’ containing contact details for the royal family and members of the household,” said prosecutor Alison Levitt.

The Sun’s former chief reporter John Kay and Defense Ministry official Bettina Jordan-Barber also face charges while a sixth, unidentified person, is still being investigated.

Brooks, Kay, and Jordan-Barber are charged with “conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.”

Cameron hired Coulson as his media spokesman when he became Prime Minister in 2010, despite him leaving the News of the World under a cloud after Goodman’s initial conviction. At the time, Coulson assured Cameron he had not been involved in any illegal activity as editor.

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