The Crown Prosecution Service today announced eight people will be charged in connection with the phone hacking scandal. Proceedings will begin next month.
Those facing charges include former NOTW editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and former chief NOTW reporter Neville Thurlbeck.
The decision to press charges against Brooks and Coulson will cause a headache for the prime minister, considering Coulson once worked as the PM’s director of communications and Brooks used to share country suppers and affectionate texts with the PM.
The Telegraph reports:
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that the former News International staff and a private investigator will face court on a total of 19 charges.
The hacking offences relate to the “voicemail messages of well-known people and / or those associated with them”, according to prosecutors. They said more than 600 people were targeted.
They are charged with hacking the phones of the late schoolgirl Milly Dowler, politicians Lord Prescott, David Blunkett, Charles Clarke, Dame Tessa Jowell and Mark Oaten, and a string of celebrities including Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Sadie Frost, Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills and footballer Wayne Rooney.
All, with the exception of Mulcaire, are to be charged with conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from 3rd October 2000 to 9th August 2006.
While Ed Miliband said:
“Everybody was very shocked at the revelations of the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone. We said at the time we needed to get to the bottom of what had happened. It is now right that justice takes its course. This is now a matter for the courts.”
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Andy Coulson has told the media that he is “disappointed” with the decision, while Brooks has released a statement saying she “did not authorise, nor was [she] aware of, phone hacking under my editorship”.
Across the pond, the New York Times opined on what this may mean for Cameron:
With a general election due in 2015, the analysts said, Mr. Cameron and the Conservative Party are now potentially vulnerable to any new revelations that might emerge from the trials, in the form of hitherto unpublished e-mails or testimony touching on the prime minister’s dealings with Mr. Coulson or Ms. Brooks.
The prime minister’s judgment in the affair - particularly his recruiting of Mr. Coulson as the Conservative Party’s media chief in 2007, and his decision to take him to Downing Street after the 2010 election, long after the hacking that took place on Mr. Coulson’s watch at The News of the World became known - is already a major dent in Mr. Cameron’s political armor.
He has also faced extensive questioning as to whether his close relations with the Murdoch elite have skewed government policy favorably toward the media mogul.
Some commentators seemed to be distracted by the list of those who’s phones had been hacked, the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire tweeting:
“Delia Smith hacked! Never expected her in the phone hacking mix. What was the NoW after – a fish pie recipe?”
It was also revealed Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were victims of phone hacking, triggering the interest of celebrity and entertainment websites.
Looks like Jude Law, Sienna Miller and Hugh Grant now have some high-profile company.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were revealed today to be among the victims of the sweepingNews of the World phone-hacking scandal, whose far reaching aftershocks led to the collapse of a historic British paper and to hundred of millions of dollars in payouts to its victims, including a slew of A-list celebs.
So now the Leveson Inquiry is over, it looks like the summer will be filled with another possible source of scandal to keep the press occupied…