Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, former lead editors of the News of the World tabloid in Britain, were among eight of News Corp.’s ex-journalists charged with hacking into celebrities’ voice mail to get stories.
The two former editors of the paper were charged with multiple hacking offenses, including accessing the voice mail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002, the Crown Prosecution Service said today.
News Corp., the New York-based company controlled by Chairman Rupert Murdoch, is trying to move on from the scandal after civil lawsuits and a parallel media-ethics inquiry that began last year revealed damaging evidence about hacking and other wrongdoing. Murdoch shuttered the 168-year-old tabloid a year ago to contain public outrage over the practice.
“There is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to one or more offenses,” Alison Levitt, the principal legal adviser to Britain’s director of public prosecutions, said at a press conference.
Others charged include former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Ian Edmondson, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, former assistant editor Greg Miskiw, former assistant news editor James Weatherup and former private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
The charges related to hacking between 2000 and 2006 and involve about 600 victims, including actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Prosecutors made the decision to charge them after considering files of evidence produced by the Metropolitan Police Service, which opened a new probe in January 2011.
The phone-hacking probe, known as Operation Weeting, is running parallel to investigations into computer hacking and bribery by reporters and editors at the News of the World and another News Corp. tabloid, the Sun, Britain’s best-selling daily title, where the bribery arrests have focused.
Brooks, who was chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, News International, was previously charged in May with perverting the course of justice by conspiring with her husband and others to remove evidence from the company’s archives and cover up the hacking scandal. She had already been arrested in July 2011 in the probes into phone hacking and bribery.
Coulson quit as U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s press chief in January 2011 over claims phone hacking took place when he edited the tabloid. He was arrested in July that year. Coulson resigned as editor in 2007 after a reporter was jailed for phone hacking and denied knowledge of the practice.
More than 60 people have been arrested in probes that are underway as News Corp. plans to split the company into separate entertainment and publishing arms. Two previous police probes failed to uncover the extent of the hacking practice.
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