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Rebekah Brooks formally charged in UK eavesdropping scandal

Rebekah Brooks "answered bail" at Lewisham police station in London on Thursday,  police said.

Story highlights

  • Rebekah Brooks is charged on 3 offenses at a London police station, police say
  • She posts bail and is scheduled to next appear in court on September 3
  • Brooks is a former editor of The News of the World and CEO of News International
  • She is one of several former News Corp. employees facing charges in the case

The former head of media baron Rupert Murdoch's News International was formally charged at a London police station Thursday in the eavesdropping probe that has rocked the News Corp. empire and British government, London police said.

Authorities announced last week that Rebekah Brooks -- who besides being a onetime chief executive of News International, which is the division of News Corp. that includes the company's British newspapers, also had been editor of The News of the World tabloid -- was among those being charged in the high-profile case.

On Thursday evening, she "answered bail" at Lewisham police station in the British capital and "was charged" with several offenses, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a written statement.

She posted bail and is scheduled to next appear in court on September 3.

The long-running police investigation prompted by illegal eavesdropping at the defunct Murdoch tabloid The News of the World has expanded into probes of computer hacking, bribery and corruption. Brooks served as that newspaper's editor before taking the same role at The Sun and eventually rising to the CEO position with News International.

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The announced names of the suspected hacking victims include some of the world's biggest celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Paul McCartney and soccer star Wayne Rooney.

    The phone-hacking accusations have reverberated through the top levels of British politics and journalism, led to the major tabloid's closing and prompted a parliamentary committee to issue damning criticism of Murdoch.

    Others charged in the case include Andy Coulson, an editor at News of the World who went on to become director of communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron before resigning.

    According to Thursday's release from London police, Brooks was charged on three offenses. The first claims that she -- along with Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw, Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup -- conspired between October 3, 2000, and August 9, 2006, "to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, without lawful authority." Specifically, the charge asserts that they listened to "voice mail messages of well-known people."

    Another charge accuses Brooks, Coulson, Kuttner, Miskiw, Thurlbeck and Glenn Mulcaire of intercepting messages of Milly Dowler, the 13-year-old British schoolgirl who was abducted and murdered in 2002.

    Lastly, Brooks, Mulcaire and Miskiw are charged with, between December 3, 2002, and January 22, 2003, conspiring to intercept the messages of firefighter trade union boss Andy Gilchrist.

    Brooks has previously vigorously denied the charges against her, saying she was "distressed and angry."

    The scandal exploded with the revelation that the phone of Dowler was hacked after she disappeared in 2002. She was later found murdered. Indications that her voice mail had been accessed had given her parents the false hope she was still alive.

    Prosecutors allege there were more than 600 victims of phone hacking between 2000 and 2006.

    The investigation and public notoriety has been damaging to News Corp. and Murdoch, who stepped down from a string of company boards of directors earlier this month and further distanced himself from the print business that first brought him fame and fortune.

        The hacking scandal

      • Former News of the World editor and Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson arrives at the phone-hacking trial at the Old Bailey court in London on January 27, 2014.

        Britain's phone-hacking scandal has seen former tabloid editor Andy Coulson move from the newsroom into the full glare of its spotlight.
      • How did phone hacking grow into a scandal that threatened Rupert Murdoch's hold on his global media business? Track all the major events.
      • Caption:LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a reception during a visit to Centrepoint's Camberwell Foyer on December 21, 2011 in London, England. The national charity, Centrepoint, provides housing and support to improve the lives of homeless young people aged 16-25. (Photo by Ben Stansall-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

        The phone hacking trial revealed much about the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch's sex-and-scandal tabloids.
      • Rupert Murdoch (R) his wife Wendi Deng (C) and son Lachlan (L) leave their London home on April 26.

        Media expert Brian Cathcart says Fleet St. has grabbed its megaphone and started bellowing out its usual message: leave us alone.
      • 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.