'News Of The World' Editor Charged With Conspiracy

Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks faces allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in the latest development in Britain's phone hacking scandal.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with the latest in the Murdoch case.

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GREENE: A close confidant of Rupert Murdoch is to face criminal charges in connection with Britain's phone-hacking scandal. Prosecutors accuse Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of the News of the World, with interfering with police investigations.

And NPR's Philip Reeves is following the story. And Phil, give us a sense for how embarrassing this development is for Rupert Murdoch.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Well, this certainly is a blow to Murdoch. Remember, Brooks was his protege. She was editor of the News of the World, and also of Murdoch's favorite tabloid paper, the Sun. She rose to become chief executive of News International, that's Murdoch's U.K. subsidiary. And is not only a personal blow for Murdoch - in her BlackBerry, Brooks had the personal numbers of a lot of powerful people in Britain. The prime minister, David Cameron, is a friend and neighbor. They've partied together; they've gone riding together.

And the other day, Brooks testified under oath to an ethics inquiry that she and Cameron exchanged text messages. She said Cameron indirectly sent her a message of support when she was forced by this scandal to resign. So it's all very awkward for Cameron, too.

GREENE: And Phil, briefly, what are the charges against her, and how has she reacted so far?

REEVES: Well, Brooks faces three criminal charges. These all accuse her of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, which is a very serious offense. Prosecutors say that these relate to police investigations into allegations of phone-hacking, and also the corruption of public officials at the News of the World and The Sun.

One charge alleges that Brooks and her husband, Charlie - the socialite and racehorse trainer - conspired with others to conceal material from the police. Another accuses the Brookses, and others, of conspiring to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment. And one count alleges that Brooks and her personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, conspired to permanently remove seven boxes of material.

GREENE: Well, we'll have to see how all this unfolds. Phil, thanks so much.

REEVES: You're welcome.

GREENE: That's NPR's Philip Reeves.

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