Brooks, Coulson charged in phone hacking scandal

U.K. prosecutors target eight defendants in case

Rebekah Brooks, the former CEO of News Corp.’s News Intl., and Andy Coulson, the one-time News of the World editor who was employed as the British prime minister’s spin doctor, have been charged on suspicion of phone hacking.

The pair are among eight people whom the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service announced Tuesday will be tried for phone hacking at defunct Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid the News of the World.

Prosecutors will allege that more than 600 people, including Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, were victims of the practice.

The charges are the first related to the hacking itself in the long-running phone hacking and police corruption scandal.

Earlier this year, Brooks, who edited both the News of the World and the Sun, was charged with perjury alongside her husband, Charlie Brooks, for attempting to conceal evidence in the case.

The others charged are News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former assistant editor Ian Edmondson, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, former assistant editor James Weatherup and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

Brooks and Coulson have repeatedly denied any knowledge of phone hacking.

Murdoch closed the News of the World last July when it emerged that a phone belonging to murdered British schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked.

Brooks and Coulson have both been charged with attempting to intercept messages on Dowler’s phone.

The charges come days after Murdoch resigned his directorships of several News Corp. subsidiaries responsible for his U.K. papers, which also include the Times and the Sunday Times, after the conglom announced it was spinning off the publishing side of the biz from the lucrative TV and film assets.

The scandal has effectively destroyed Murdoch’s reputation in the U.K., and there is speculation that it won’t be long before News Corp. sells its British papers.