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Brooks 'may face hacking charge'

Rebekah Brooks is believed to be among 11 suspects in the phone hacking scandal facing criminal charges after police sent their first set of files to prosecutors.

Sources said the former News International chief executive is listed with three other journalists, one police officer and six others in documents handed to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Keir Starmer QC must now decide whether to go ahead with prosecutions based on police evidence handed to him within the last fortnight. He said he was facing "very difficult and sensitive decisions" as he predicted more cases were coming his way.

The DPP refused to formally identify who faced charges, saying only that not everyone in the files had been formally arrested.

But sources said details of the files included: Mrs Brooks and six other members of the public with relation to alleged offences of perverting the course of justice; A journalist, understood to be ex-News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, accused of witness intimidation and harassment; A journalist and a police officer accused of misconduct in a public office and Data Protection Act breaches; A journalist in relation to alleged offences under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

All 43 people arrested under the various operations into illegal activities among journalists remain on bail, Mr Starmer added.

Britain's top prosecutor said his new guidelines setting out how journalists may have broken the law would help lawyers with the "very difficult decisions".

"The decisions we are going to make are going to be extremely difficult and extremely sensitive," he said. "We have got to make a decision because these cases are coming. We cannot duck that... These just happen to be the four files we have got, there may be others. We don't know."

Police launched Weeting, the inquiry devoted specifically to phone hacking, after receiving "significant new information" from News International on January 26 last year. Elveden was launched months later after officers were given documents suggesting News International journalists made illegal payments to police officers.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said later: "We are not prepared to discuss the identities of those involved or the alleged offences in any greater detail at this stage as a number of related investigations are ongoing. We are unable to give any timescale for charging decisions, except to say that these cases are being considered very carefully and thoroughly, and the decisions will be made as soon as is practicable."

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