Ex-News Corp. Guard Charged in Brooks Obstruction Probe

A former News Corp. security staff member in Britain was charged over claims he conspired with ex-company executive Rebekah Brooks to obstruct a probe into phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid.

Lee Sandell, who worked at News Corp.’s News International U.K. publishing arm, sought to pervert the course of justice by working to hide evidence with Brooks, the unit’s former chief executive officer, and four others, the Crown Prosecution Service said today in a statement.

“It is in the public interest to charge Mr. Sandell with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice,” the CPS said in the statement. Sandell is scheduled to appear in a London criminal court tomorrow.

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, a friend of Brooks, closed the News of the World in July 2011, after it emerged journalists accessed messages on a murdered school girl’s mobile phone in 2002. The investigation spawned parallel probes into computer hacking and bribery by reporters and led to the arrests of more than 80 people, including the unit’s former top lawyer last month.

Other Defendants

Brooks, her husband Charlie Brooks, and her former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, were charged in May with seeking to obstruct the hacking probe in July 2011, by hiding papers and computers from investigators and removing seven boxes of material from News International. Mark Hanna, the former head of security at the unit, and Brooks’s chauffeur, Paul Edwards, were also charged.

Brooks, who denies the claims, quit as CEO of the unit two days before she was arrested in July 2011.

Prosecutors didn’t provide the name of Sandell’s lawyer. Daisy Dunlop, a spokeswoman for News International, declined to comment.

The CPS received evidence on Sandell from the Metropolitan Police Service on Aug. 9, according to the statement. The file stemmed from the Met’s Operation Sacha, which probed the alleged destruction of evidence related to phone hacking as the scandal peaked last year.

Brooks and another group of former News Corp. workers, including ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson, were charged in the primary phone-hacking investigation in July. She’s scheduled to appear in court in London on Sept. 26. Brooks and Coulson also face potential bribery charges.

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