Saturday 18 November 2017

Phone hack charges 'are part of witch-hunt', claims Brooks

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks leaves after giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into the ethics and practices of the media at the High Court in central London. Photo: Reuters
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks leaves after giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into the ethics and practices of the media at the High Court in central London. Photo: Reuters

Gordon Rayner and Martin Evans in London

Rebekah Brooks came out fighting yesterday after being charged with hiding evidence of phone hacking from British police, describing the investigation as a waste of money and portraying herself as the victim of a witch-hunt.

Mrs Brooks, her husband Charlie, and four current and former employees of News International were charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The former editor of the 'News of the World' and 'The Sun' accused police and prosecutors of bowing to political pressure to find scapegoats for the hacking scandal.

The charging of two close friends of the British Prime Minister means that the scandal threatens to dominate David Cameron's entire term of office.

Mrs Brooks emerged with her husband from their solicitor's office yesterday to fire the opening shots in what is already becoming a public relations battle with prosecutors.

Mr Brooks (49) spoke first, describing the charges as "a witch-hunt". He said there were 172 police officers investigating the case -- "so it's no surprise to me that the pressure is on to bring prosecutions, however weak they may be".

"But I have grave reservations that my wife can ever get a fair trial, given the huge volume of biased commentary that she is constantly subjected to," he said.

Mrs Brooks (43) was no less reticent. "I'm baffled by the decision to charge me today.

"I cannot express my anger enough that those closest to me have been dragged into this unfairly," she said.

Charged

Mr and Mrs Brooks will appear before City of London magistrates' court on June 13, having been formally charged yesterday afternoon when they answered bail at separate London police stations.

In the dock with them, jointly accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, will be Cheryl Carter, Mrs Brooks's former PA; Mark Hanna, News International's head of security; Paul Edwards, Mrs Brooks's former chauffeur, and Daryl Jorsling, a former security consultant to NI.

Mrs Brooks is charged with three counts of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

She is said to have "concealed documents, computers, and other electronic equipment" from Scotland Yard officers probing phone hacking and corrupt payments to public officials.

They are the first people to be charged since police began a fresh investigation into phone hacking in January last year. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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