Jules Stenson and Neil Wallis, former editors at News Corp.’s News of the World, were charged as prosecutors continue their bid to punish phone hacking at the now-defunct tabloid.
The pair were charged with conspiring “to intercept communications in the course of their transmission,” the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement today.
It’s yet another chapter in the long-running phone-hacking saga for the New York-based publisher, which shut Britain’s best-selling newspaper in 2011 in a bid to temper public outrage over the hacking of the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Six people have been convicted of hacking-related offenses this year, including former editor Andy Coulson, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison on July 4.
“We have decided there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest,” Gregor McGill, a senior lawyer at the CPS, said in the statement.
Stenson is former features editor of the newspaper and Wallis former deputy editor and the alleged phone-hacking took place from January 2003 to January 2007, the CPS said. Stenson and Wallis will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Aug. 21, prosecutors said.
“I’m devastated that more than three years after my initial arrest, this swingeing indiscriminate charge had been brought against me,” Wallis said in a post from his Twitter account today. “My family and I have already paid a huge price for the police’s very public attention.”
Sean O’Brien, managing director of AOB PR Ltd., a London public relations firm where Stenson works, said he was a “friend and colleague,” and that Stenson had no comment to make about the charges.
A second trial is scheduled to begin in October with at least two more slated for 2015. Stenson and Wallis are alleged to have conspired with at least seven other people, including Coulson, in hacking voice-mail messages of well-known people, according to prosecutors.
Six other former News of the World journalists who worked with News of the World’s features desk and who were investigated as part of the same police probe, Operation Pinetree, won’t be charged, the CPS said on July 16.
A jury acquitted the former head of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, Rebekah Brooks, of charges relating to hacking and bribery in June. Her husband, Charlie, and three other current and former News Corp. employees were also cleared.
Richard Brookes, a spokesman for News Corp.’s U.K. unit, said the company declined to comment about the case.