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Rebekah Brooks faces hacking cover-up charge

By Paul Peachey, Cahal Milmo and James Cusick

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, could be charged with perverting justice after her name was included among 11 suspects in the first files handed to prosecutors by detectives investigating phone hacking.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had received four files from police in the past few weeks covering a range of offences allegedly committed by four journalists, a police officer and six members of the public.

The CPS declined to name anyone in the files but said not all of them were arrested during Operation Weeting, the hacking inquiry which began in January 2011, and four other linked police inquiries.

There was speculation last night that Amelia Hill, a Guardian journalist who worked on stories exposing the hacking scandal, was among those named in the four files. She was questioned under caution last year over allegations that she received leaked information from a detective in the phone-hacking team. A 51-year-old police officer was also arrested. The Guardian declined to comment last night.

The handover of the files follows the arrests of Ms Brooks (43) and her husband, the racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks, at their Oxfordshire home last month. Four other people, including News International's head of security, Mark Hanna, were also arrested.

Police were believed to be investigating a possible plot to conceal the extent of voicemail interception at the News Of The World after Operation Weeting was launched. The offence of perverting the course of justice carries a penalty of up to life in prison and a fine. News International declined to comment.

Neville Thurlbeck, a former chief reporter at the NotW, was also thought to be included in the first tranche of files submitted to four senior lawyers who will consider if anyone should face court action.

A total of 43 people are currently on bail from the five Metropolitan Police inquiries that evolved from the original phone hacking investigations.

“We are now entering a period where we are likely to make a decision one way or another,” said Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Thurlbeck said: “I am pleased that the legal process is moving forward to what I believe will be confirmation that these allegations are completely and utterly without foundation.”

Factfile

The four files include:

  • One journalist and a police officer accused of |misconduct in a public office and data protection |offences
  • One journalist and six other individuals accused of perverting the course of justice
  • One journalist accused of witness intimidation
  • One journalist accused of a breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act


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