Britain Charges Former Murdoch Aides With Bribery

Posted November 20th, 2012 at 11:05 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

British prosecutors have charged a former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron and a former chief of Rupert Murdoch's News International media company with paying bribes for information on the royal family and the military.

Crown Prosecution Service said Tuesday that Andy Coulson, the prime minister's former media chief, and Rebekah Brooks, a close friend of Mr. Cameron, were among five people being charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Prosecutors say the two conspired with journalist John Kay to make some $150,000 in payments to Defense Ministry employee Bettina Jordan-Barber in exchange for a steady stream of information used for stories in Murdoch's The Sun newspaper.

The prosecutors also allege that Coulson, who previously worked as an editor at News of the World, another of Murdoch's British newspapers, conspired with reporter Clive Goodman to pay officials for access to a book that contained contact details for the royal family and members of their household.

The charges stem from a wider investigation into allegations reporters at the newspaper hacked the private voicemail accounts of more than 600 people, including a murdered schoolgirl, politicians and celebrities.

Both Brooks and Coulson worked as editors at News of the World, before Brooks took a job as a chief executive at News International and Coulson went to work in the government. The two also face charges related to the phone-hacking scandal.

Murdoch closed the 168-year-old News of the World tabloid in July 2011, after the allegations became public. News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's U.S.-based News Corporation conglomerate, has agreed to large payouts to 37 phone-hacking victims.

In all, about 40 people have been arrested due to probes into the illegal news-gathering and bribery scandals.