Alison Levitt QC: “This statement is made in the interests of transparency and accountability.”
Eight people, including Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, will face a total of 19 charges relating to phone hacking, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.
The two ex-News of the World editors are to be charged in connection with the accessing of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone messages.
They are among seven of the now-defunct paper’s former staff facing charges of conspiring to intercept voicemails.
The CPS said the charges related to 600 alleged victims between 2000 and 2006.
The others facing charges are former News of the World (NoW) managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former assistant editor Ian Edmondson, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, former assistant editor James Weatherup and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
The eight, who will be charged when they answer police bail, are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 16 August.
The revelation that 13-year-old Milly’s phone had been hacked by the NoW after she went missing in Surrey in 2002 led to the closure of the Sunday tabloid newspaper in July last year.
‘Upsetting’Mrs Brooks, who is also a former chief executive of the paper’s publisher News International, faces three charges relating to the alleged accessing of phones belonging to Milly and former Fire Brigades Union boss Andrew Gilchrist.
In a statement, Mrs Brooks said: “I am not guilty of these charges. I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship.”
- September 2010: Scotland Yard faces pressure to reopen phone-hacking investigation as celebrities launch legal actions for answers
- April 2011: Officers from Operation Weeting, the re-opened investigation, make three arrests
- July 2011: Rupert Murdoch closes down the News of the World after 168 years of publication. The same month, its former editor Andy Coulson is arrested, followed by Rebekah Brooks two weeks later. Other journalists are arrested during the course of the year
- November 2011: The Leveson Inquiry opens in London
- July 2012: Met Police say 74 people arrested to date, 26 in connection with Operation Weeting. Seven journalists and one private investigator charged in relation to phone hacking
She added that the charge concerning Milly was “particularly upsetting, not only as it is untrue but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime”.
Mr Coulson, who also used to be Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications chief, will face four charges linked to accusations of accessing the phone messages of Milly, former Labour home secretaries David Blunkett and Charles Clarke, and Calum Best, the son of the late footballer George Best.
He told reporters he would fight the allegations and said anyone who had worked with him “would know that I wouldn’t, and more importantly, that I didn’t do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation”.
“At the News of the World we worked on behalf of the victims of crime, particularly violent crime, and the idea that I would then sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations is simply untrue,” he added.
BBC chief political correspondent Norman Smith says many people will now be pondering how the PM came to appoint someone to his inner circle who had these question marks against him.
It will not be a short, sharp difficulty but a long, slow protracted problem for the government with the build-up to the court case and the trial itself likely to go on for months, he says.
Mr Cameron will be concerned about the bolt-from-the-blue factor – not knowing what will emerge from the court case, our correspondent adds.
‘Surprised’A solicitor for Mr Kuttner said his client “utterly refutes” the charges.
Mr Thurlbeck said he was “most surprised and disappointed” and would “vigorously fight to clear my reputation”.
And Mr Edmondson said he had “much to say on this subject and I now look forward to saying it” and that he would clear his name at trial.
All of the suspects apart from Mulcaire will be charged with conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority between October 3, 2000, and August 9, 2006.
The charge carries a sentence of up to two years in prison or a fine.
Mulcaire, who was jailed in January 2007 after he admitted unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages received by three royal aides while working for the NoW, faces four unspecified charges relating to Milly, Mr Gilchrist, Delia Smith, and Charles Clarke.
He said he was “extremely disappointed by today’s decision given that in 2006 I was the subject of a comprehensive police investigation on this matter”.
“I subsequently pleaded guilty and served the prison sentence imposed on me by the court,” he added.
“I intend to contest these allegations strenuously.”
Prosecutors will allege that more than 600 people, including Hollywood actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, were victims of the phone hacking conspiracy, the CPS indicated.
Other alleged victims named in connection with the charges were former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, television stars Abi Titmuss and John Leslie, chef Delia Smith, actors Jude Law, Sadie Frost and Sienna Miller, and footballer Wayne Rooney.
Decision deferredThe CPS said that no further action would be taken in relation to three other suspects, former NoW reporter Ross Hall, sports reporter Raoul Simons and Terenia Taras, a former partner of Greg Miskiw.
Police have asked the CPS to defer making a decision over two remaining suspects who have been re-bailed while officers make further inquiries.
The BBC understands they are former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis and Dan Evans, who was a reporter on the paper.
Mrs Brooks was editor of the News of the World from 2000 to 2003, when she became editor of the Sun, before rising to become News International chief executive. She resigned from her position in July 2011.
She already also faces three charges of perverting the course of justice arising from the investigation into phone hacking – charges she has denied.
Mr Coulson was NoW editor between 2003 and 2007. He later became Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman but quit in January 2011.