Skip to main content

Brooks, Coulson charged over alleged payments to officials

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 11:18 AM EST, Mon November 26, 2012
(File photo) Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News International is pictured on September 26 in London.
(File photo) Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News International is pictured on September 26 in London.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Rebekah Brooks will appear in court next week, charged over alleged illegal payments
  • Andy Coulson faces charges over alleged payments to officials in a separate case
  • Brooks and Coulson edited a newspaper that was part of the News Corp. empire
  • Coulson was director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron

London (CNN) -- Rupert Murdoch protégé Rebekah Brooks was charged Tuesday with conspiracy over alleged illegal payments to a Ministry of Defence employee, London's Metropolitan Police said Tuesday.

In a separate case, Andy Coulson, another former Murdoch employee who went on to work for Prime Minister David Cameron, faces charges of conspiring to make illegal payments to officials for information relating to the royal family, Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said.

Read more: Why media fights back so hard

Brooks and Coulson are former editors of the now-defunct News of the World newspaper, owned by a UK subsidiary of Murdoch's News Corp., News International.

Former NOTW editors charged with bribery
Inside the UK phone hacking scandal
Rupert Murdoch: 'I was not aware'

Brooks also was editor of daily tabloid The Sun from 2003 to 2009 before becoming chief executive of News International.

Two others face charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office alongside Brooks -- the former chief reporter at The Sun, John Kay, and Bettina Jordan-Barber, employed by the Ministry of Defence.

A fourth suspect, identified only as a second public official, remains under investigation, the CPS said.

The charges in this case relate to the period from January 1, 2004, to January 31 of this year, Alison Levitt, chief legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions, said in a statement.

"This conspiracy relates to information allegedly provided by Bettina Jordan Barber for payment which formed the basis of a series of news stories published by The Sun," Levitt said. "It is alleged that approximately £100,000 was paid to Bettina Jordan Barber between 2004 and 2011."

Kay, 69, and Brooks, 44, were formally charged at London police stations Tuesday. Both are scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on November 29.

The case in which Coulson is charged also involves former News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman.

Both men face two counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

"The allegations relate to the request and authorization of payments to public officials in exchange for information, including a palace phone directory known as the "Green Book" containing contact details for the royal family and members of the household," Levitt said.

Royal officials declined to comment on the charges.

Coulson, who took over as editor of News of the World in 2003, having served as deputy editor for three years, resigned from the post in 2007.

He was then appointed director of communications for Cameron but stepped down in early 2011 amid questions over allegations of phone hacking by the News of the World, saying he did not want to be a distraction.

The charges against Coulson, Brooks and the other suspects result from a Metropolitan Police investigation into alleged illegal payments to public officials, codenamed Operation Elveden. It was launched in conjunction with police inquiries into alleged phone and computer hacking.

The News of the World was shuttered in summer 2011 amid public outrage over revelations that it hacked into the voicemail of a missing schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, who later turned out to have been murdered.

CNN's Marilia Brocchetto, Susannah Palk and Max Foster contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:32 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Britain's phone-hacking scandal has seen former tabloid editor Andy Coulson move from the newsroom into the full glare of its spotlight.
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
Rebekah Brooks was once feted as one of the rising stars of the British media.
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
Rupert Murdoch
An old-fashioned press baron with ink running through his veins, a hefty checkbook, and a hunger for the next big story.
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
How did phone hacking grow into a scandal that threatened Rupert Murdoch's hold on his global media business? Track all the major events.
updated 10:17 AM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
The phone hacking trial revealed much about the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch's sex-and-scandal tabloids.
updated 7:34 AM EST, Thu November 29, 2012
Revelations that murdered UK schoolgirl Milly Dowler 's phone was hacked sparked outrage. But who was the girl at the center of the scandal?
updated 1:21 PM EST, Wed November 28, 2012
Media expert Brian Cathcart says Fleet St. has grabbed its megaphone and started bellowing out its usual message: leave us alone.
updated 6:33 AM EST, Thu November 29, 2012
James Murdoch, head of News Corp's European operations
James Murdoch was widely regarded as heir-apparent to his father global media empire. All that changed when the hacking scandal broke.
updated 6:30 AM EST, Fri November 30, 2012
Could the phone-hacking scandal prove to be a blessing in disguise for Murdoch? He claimed to have been "humbled" by the scandal.
The Leveson inquiry is a British government-backed inquiry into illegal eavesdropping and bribery by journalists. Read the final report by Lord Leveson.
Phone-hacking scandal revealed the dark side of tabloid journalism. Should it lead to a stricter press regulation? Share your views with CNN.
ADVERTISEMENT