Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s British unit, will learn today whether she’ll be charged with trying to cover up the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World tabloid.
The U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service will tell her this morning whether she will be charged with perverting the course of justice, her lawyer, Stephen Parkinson, said yesterday in an e-mail. He declined to comment further. The charge, which can be related to destroying evidence or misleading an investigation, carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The decision will come four days after the 43-year-old Brooks, a former editor of the News of the World and News Corp.’s Sun, testified at an inquiry into media ethics led by Judge Brian Leveson triggered by the phone-hacking scandal. London police are investigating whether journalists at the now-defunct News of the World hacked into the mobile-phone voice mails of celebrities, athletes and politicians.
Brooks was detained a second time in March, along with her husband Charlie, a former race-horse trainer, in a new probe dubbed Operation Sacha, which is investigating perversion of justice allegations. Mark Hanna, who headed security for the News International unit, was also arrested.
The Metropolitan Police turned over evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service on April 18 with details on possible criminal charges against as many as 11 people, including four journalists, a police officer and six members of the public.
The files outline claims including violations of Britain’s data-protection law, perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation. The information from the police was included in four files on possible charges, with each file involving one unidentified journalist.
One file relates to a journalist and six members of the public accused of perverting the course of justice.
The probe has expanded to include bribery of public officials and computer hacking and has resulted in the arrests of about 45 people. Brooks remains a suspect in the underlying phone-hacking investigation.
Brooks told the inquiry last week that she discussed phone-hacking cases with Prime Minister David Cameron in late 2010.
As civil lawsuits by phone-hacking victims mounted in late 2010, and the company was accused of a cover-up, Brooks discussed the situation with Cameron, who became prime minister in May of that year. Phone hacking had “been on the news that day and I explained the story behind the news,” she said.
Prosecutors decided not to file charges last month against Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter at the News of the World, over allegations he threatened a witness in the probe.