Eight face charges over phone hacking scandal

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By Andrew Barr

A total of eight people including Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson have been charged in relation to the phone hacking scandal, the Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed.

The two former editors of the News of the World are being pressed with criminal charges following revelations that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone messages were allegedly accessed by the paper in 2002.

Other figures facing charges are former News of the World staff Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup, Ian Edmondson and Neville Thurlbeck.  Glenn Mulcaire who was a private investigator hired by the paper is also being charged.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service the charges are linked to 600 alleged phone hacking incidents between 2000 and 2006. 

The Crown alleges that Rebekah Brooks, Andrew Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw, Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup, between the 3rd day of October 2000 and the 9th day of August 2006 conspired together, and with Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman and persons unknown, to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, without lawful authority, namely the voicemail messages of well-known people and those associated with them.

David Cameron’s former spin doctor Andy Coulson and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks both deny the allegations.  In a statement, Ms Brooks said she was “distressed and angry” about the developments.

She said: “I am not guilty of these charges. I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship.

“I am distressed and angry that the CPS have reached this decision when they knew all the facts and  were in a position to stop the case at this stage.

“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.

“I will vigorously defend these allegations.”

In addition, Mr Coulson told reporters: “I will fight these allegations when they eventually get to court.

“I would like to say one thing today about the Milly Dowler allegations – anyone who knows me or has worked with me would know that I wouldn’t and more importantly that I didn’t do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation.

“At the News Of The World we worked on behalf of the victims of crime… the idea that I would then sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations in simply untrue.”

Mr Coulson (pictured) has already been charged with perjury by Strathclyde Police in connection with evidence he gave under oath at the trial of former MSP Tommy Sheridan. 

Mr Sheridan also allegededly had his phone hacked by Glenn Mulcaire on behalf of the News of the World, one of the eight figures now being prosecuted.

Mr Mulcaire was jailed previously in January 2007, along with Clive Godman after admitting intercepting voicemails.  Notes found in his posession at the time of his arrest revealed mobile phone details relating to Tommy Sheridan (see below).  The notes were shown to the high court in Glasgow during Mr Sheridan’s trial.

Sheridan’s brother-in-law, Andy McFarlane, 41, was also contacted by the Met to say that his phone number was unearthed in Mulcaire’s notes, along with Mr Sheridan’s mother Alice who had her mobile phone hacked as she battled against cancer.  Her ex-directory landline number was also found in Mulcaire’s notes.

Coulson and the other seven face charges which carry a sentence of up to two years imprisonment or a heavy fine.  Rebekah Brooks already faces three additional charges of perverting the course of justice during the phone hacking investigation – charges she denies.

A collation of Leveson Inquiry statistics from the BBC has found that UK PM David Cameron, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks had ‘the worst memory’ under questioning.  The number of times key figures said “I don’t remember,” “I don’t recall,” “I can’t remember” or “I can’t recall” during the Inquiry was highest with the Prime Minister on 49 counts, James Murdoch on 41 counts and Rebekah Brooks on 35.

The eight facing charges will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on the 16th of August.

 

Read the full statement from the Department of Public Prosecutions: http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/in-brief/5448-phone-hacking-charges-dpp-full-statement