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Ex-Murdoch editor Brooks, five others, charged over phone-hacking scandal

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and her husband, Charlie Brooks, have been charged with perverting the course of justice during the U.K. phone hacking scandal. ITV's Keir Simmons reports.

Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET: LONDON - Rebekah Brooks, a close confidante of Rupert Murdoch, was charged on Tuesday with interfering with a police investigation into a phone hacking scandal that has rocked the tycoon's empire and sent shockwaves through the British political establishment.

"I have concluded ... there is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction," Alison Levitt, the principal legal adviser to Britain's Director of Public Prosecutionssaid in a statement.  


Brooks, 43, who quit as News International chief executive in July, faces three separate allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  If convicted she could face a prison sentence.

Also charged were Brooks' race horse trainer husband, her secretary and other staff from News International, including her driver and security officials from the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp media empire.

The news is a personal blow for Murdoch and also embarrassing for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was close friends with Brooks, 43, and her husband, Charlie Brooks. 

Former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks reveals details of sympathy messages received from British Prime Minister David Cameron after she was forced to resign over the phone hacking scandal. ITV's Lucy Manning reports.

The action against the woman who was one of his most trusted lieutenants comes as Murdoch faces increasing pressure in Britain. He has been forced to close one newspaper, withdraw a major takeover bid for a lucrative TV group and been described in a parliamentary committee report as someone who is not fit to run a major international company. 

She and others are accused of conspiring to "permanently ... remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International" and to "conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service," according to the CPS. 

All eyes on court as Murdoch confidante Rebekah Brooks lays bare ties to UK elite

The criminal charges are the first to be filed since police launched a new inquiry into phone hacking in Jan. 2011. Previously, two people were jailed in 2007 for hacking the phones of members of the royal household.

The offenses were all alleged to have taken place in the frantic days last July when Murdoch closed down the 168-year-old News of The World amid widespread public disgust over revelations that it had hacked the cell phone of a missing schoolgirl who was later found dead.

For a detailed look at the charges against Brooks and the hacking scandal, see coverage by NBC News' British partner ITV News

Murdoch announced his decision on July 7, 2011. Levitt said the alleged offenses took place between July 6 and July 19.

Brooks and others will all appear in court in London on June 13.

'Unprecedented posturing'
Minutes before British police announced their decision, Brooks and her husband issued a statement, saying "we deplore this weak and unjust decision."

"After the further unprecedented posturing of the (Crown Prosecution Service) we will respond later today after our return from the police station," the statement added. 

MSNBC's Martin Bashir talks about the explosive testimony by Rebekah Brooks and how it will affect the inquiry into the British phone hacking scandal.

Police re-launched an investigation in January last year into claims journalists at the tabloid routinely hacked into the phones of celebrities, politicians and victims of crime to generate front page stories. 

They are also investigating whether staff hacked into computers and made illegal payments to public officials including the police to get ahead in their reporting. 

More than 160 staff are now working on one of the biggest investigations ever carried out by London police and almost 50 people have been arrested. 

Msnbc.com's F. Brinley Bruton, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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