Rebekah Brooks 'Baffled' Over Phone Hacking Charges

PA/The Huffington Post  |  Posted: Updated: 15/05/2012 18:09

Rebekah Brooks
Charlie and Rebekah Brooks claim they are being made scapegoats

Rebekah Brooks angrily attacked police and prosecutors for dragging her friends and family into the phone hacking scandal tonight as she said she was "baffled" to face charges.

The former News International chief executive said allegations that she, her husband and four others plotted to hide evidence were "an expensive sideshow and a waste of public money".

In a defiant statement delivered outside her solicitor's London office, she added: "Although I understand the need for a thorough investigation, I am baffled by the decision to charge me. However I cannot express my anger enough that those close to me have unfairly been dragged into this.

"One day the details of this case will emerge and people will see today as nothing more than an expensive sideshow and a waste of public money as a result of an unjust and weak decision."

Mr Brooks said: "I feel today is an attempt to use me and others as scapegoats, the effect of which will be to ratchet up pressure on my wife, who I believe is also the subject of a witch hunt.

"There are 172 police officers, the equivalent of eight murder squads, working on this; so it is no surprise to me the pressure is on to bring prosecutions however weak they may be.

The former News International chief executive and her husband have both been charged with perverting the course of justice during the phone-hacking affair.

They are the first people to be charged since the extensive Metropolitan Police inquiry into phone hacking and corruption began in January last year.

rebekah brooks

Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie leave the High Court after giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry

The four other people to be charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in connection with the inquiry include Cheryl Carter, Mrs Brooks' personal assistant, Mark Hanna, Head of Security at News International, Paul Edwards, Mrs Brooks' chauffeur, who was employed by News International and Daryl Jorsling, part of Mrs Brooks' security team.

rebekah brooks

Cheryl Carter, 47, a former personal assistant for Rebekah Brooks

The charges include conspiring to conceal material from Scotland Yard detectives, conspiring to remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International and conspiring to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from detectives, reports the Press Association.

Mrs Brooks, her husband and the four other suspects will appear together at City of London Magistrates’ Court on 13 June.

In a statement, Henri Brandman, Cheryl Carter's solicitor, said: "Cheryl Carter understands that she is to be charged today with attempting to pervert the course of justice. She vigorously denies the commission of that or any offence.

"She would like to thank her family and friends for their continued support during this most unhappy period of her life.

"Neither she, nor I, will be making any further comment at this stage."

Alison Levitt QC, for the CPS, said that there is "sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction".

Meanwhile, a 50-year-old male employee of HM Revenue and Customs and a 43-year-old woman were arrested today at their home in north west London as part of the investigation into corrupt payments to public officials, Scotland Yard said.

Brooks, a Warrington-born high-flyer in Rupert Murdoch's media empire, is one of the most high-profile figures in the newspaper industry.

The decision from prosecutors comes days after she lifted the lid about her close relationship with the Prime Minister as she gave evidence at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

rebekah brooks

Brooks was one of Rupert Murdoch's closest and most trusted aides

David Cameron had a habit of signing off texts "lots of love" to Brooks, and sent her a message urging her to "keep your head up" when she resigned over the phone-hacking scandal.

She revealed that David Cameron wasn't the only minister to have offered her sympathy over the hacking scandal.

She added: ''I received some indirect messages from Number 10, Number 11, the Home Office, the Foreign Office."

Brooks became News of the World editor in 2000 aged 31, landed the top job at The Sun in 2003 and was appointed chief executive of News International in 2009 before quitting in July 2011.

Days later she was arrested over alleged phone-hacking and corruption offences.

She was arrested again in March in connection with the separate perverting the course of justice allegation, with her husband and four others.

FOLLOW UK