Saturday 26 May 2018

Former editors on phone hack charges vow to clear names

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson
Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson

Martin Evans in London

THE British Prime Minister's former Director of Communications Andy Coulson and his friend Rebekah Brooks say they will clear their names after being charged yesterday with conspiring to hack the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Mr Coulson and Mrs Brooks were among seven journalists and executives from the now defunct 'News of the World' to be charged over the scandal.

They are accused of conspiring to hack the phones of more than 600 people ranging from survivors of the 7/7 terrorist bombings to Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Mr Coulson is separately accused of conspiring to hack the phone of Milly Dowler (13), who was murdered on her way home from school in Surrey in March, 2002. He is also accused of targeting former Home Secretaries David Blunkett and Charles Clarke.

Mrs Brooks, already facing charges of perverting the course of justice in relation to hacking, is accused of specifically targeting Milly Dowler and firefighters' union boss Andy Gilchrist.

Both accused have denied the allegations.

The 'News of the World' was closed and a public inquiry launched under Lord Justice Leveson following outrage over the revelation that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked.

Speaking outside his south London home, Mr Coulson, who was forced to quit as David Cameron's spokesman over the hacking scandal, said: "Anyone who knows me or who has worked with me knows I wouldn't and didn't do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation."

Mrs Brooks also rejected the allegations that she had been involved with the hacking of Milly's phone.

The former 'News of the World' and 'Sun' editor said in a statement: "I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship.

"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."

The pair will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on August 16 with senior colleagues from the Sunday tabloid. They are former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, former news editor Ian Edmonson, reporter James Weatherup, former managing editor Stuart Kuttner and former news executive Greg Miskiw.

Also charged yesterday was private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2007 after admitting intercepting the voicemails of members of the royal household.

The alleged victims of hacking include John Tulloch, who survived the Edgware Road terror attack, TV chef Delia Smith, former England soccer boss Sven-Goran Eriksson and Paul McCartney and his ex-wife Heather Mills.

The allegations relating to celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie could open up Rupert Murdoch's New York-based News Corp to a vastly damaging legal action in the United States. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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