Former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor and former communications director for UK Prime Minister David Cameron Andy Coulson, former News of the World journalist Clive Goodman and two others were charged in the UK police’s investigation into bribery, the BBC reported.
A Nov. 20 statement on the Crown Prosecution Service’s website detailed the charges against the four journalists and one Ministry of Defense employee related to the police’s Operation Elveden. (As iMediaEthics has written, the UK police are running Operation Elveden into bribery, Operation Tuleta into email hacking and Operation Weeting into phone hacking.)
The statement, with information from the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Principal Legal Adviser Alison Levitt, reads in part that Goodman, Coulson, Brooks, and two others — Bettina Jordon-Barber and John Kay — “should be charged” with at least one conspiracy each. (According to the Guardian, “Kay is the only one who remains employed by News International. News International spokesperson Daisy Dunlop told iMediaEthics by email that “It is correct that John Kay is the only current employee but there is no comment in general.”)
The statement says Goodman and Coulson are accused of paying “public officials in exchange for information, including a Palace phone directory,” and Kay and Brooks are accused of paying Jordan-Barber, who works at the Ministry of Defense but has since been suspended, for information for stories. iMediaEthics wroet to the ministry seeking confirmation of Jordan-Barber’s suspension and further comment and received the following statement from a ministry spokesperson:
“The MOD can confirm an employee has been arrested and is facing charges under Operation Elveden. As the matter is subject to a civilian police investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
The CPS statement notes:
“We have concluded, following a careful review of the evidence, that Clive Goodman and Andy Coulson should be charged with two conspiracies. The allegations relate to the request and authorisation of payments to public officials in exchange for information, including a Palace phone directory known as the ‘Green Book’ containing contact details for the Royal Family and Members of the Household…
“We have concluded, following a careful review of the evidence, that Bettina Jordan-Barber, John Kay and Rebekah Brooks should be charged with a conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012. This conspiracy relates to information allegedly provided by Bettina Jordan-Barber for payment, which formed the basis of a series of news stories published by The Sun. It is alleged that approximately £100,000 was paid to Bettina Jordan-Barber between 2004 and 2011.”
The statement noted that the recommendation to charge was “considered carefully” in light of balancing “whether the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings.”
Levitt also recommended that journalists be careful in reporting on the charges, writing:
“May I remind all concerned that these five individuals now will be charged with criminal offences and that each has a right to a fair trial. It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.”
According to Business Week, Coulson’s law firm DLA Piper LLP said in a statement that Coulson is “extremely disappointed” by the charges and that “I deny the allegations made against me and will fight the charges in court.” Brooks’ law firm and News International “declined to comment” to Business Week.
iMediaEthics wrote this summer when Brooks and Coulson were charged with “conspiring to intercept the communications of at least 600 people between 2000 and 2006.” In May, Brooks was charged with trying to cover-up phone hacking after the Guardian reported the News of the World hacked (missing and later found dead teenager) Milly Dowler’s phone. Brooks was charged with “concealing material from detectives, conspiring to remove boxes of archive records…and hiding documents, computers, and other electronic equipment from the police,” Christian Science Monitor reported at the time.
See all of iMediaEthics’ reports on the phone hacking scandal.
UPDATE: 11/30/2012 9:53 AM EST: Added response from Ministry of Defense.