London: Rebekah Brooks, a former executive in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and friend of British Prime Minister David Cameron, faces charges in court on Wednesday that she conspired to hide evidence from police investigating a phone hacking scandal.
The charges are part of the criminal inquiry into assertions that UK newspapers intercepted messages on the phones of celebrities, politicians and crime victims, and made illegal payments to public officials.
The scandal has damaged the reputation of Murdoch’s global media operations, raised questions about Cameron’s judgment and exposed the close relations between British politicians, police and journalists.
Brooks, 44, was expected to enter a plea on three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice between July 6 and July 19, 2011. The hearing will take place at the Central Criminal Court in London.
The Crown Prosecution Service said the first charge alleges she conspired with her husband Charlie Brooks, a racehorse trainer, to “conceal material from the officers of the Metropolitan Police Service” in London.
The second accuses Brooks and Cheryl Carter, her one-time personal assistant, of plotting “to remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International”, Murdoch’s UK newspaper business.
The third alleges that Brooks, her husband and three others conspired “to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers”.
Cameron’s ex-media chief Andy Coulson, who also worked as a Murdoch newspaper editor, is due in the same court for a preliminary hearing on charges that he conspired to intercept phone messages.
Brooks is separately charged with conspiracy to intercept phone messages, allegations she has denied. Wednesday’s hearing will encompass both the charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and those related to phone messages.
Brooks was one of Murdoch’s most trusted and loyal managers, editing two of his top-selling tabloid newspapers before going on to run News International. She was also close to Cameron, exchanging text messages with the Conservative leader.