Murdoch and Brooks in London on July 10, 2011 (AP)
Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International and ex-editor of News of the World, and six other staffers—including Andy Coulson, another former editor—will be charged in the U.K. phone-hacking case, investigators announced on Tuesday. Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator employed by the tabloid newspaper, will also be charged.
The other former News of the World staffers informed of pending charges on Tuesday are managing editor Stuart Kuttner, news editor Greg Miskiw, news chief Ian Edmondson, senior reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former reporter James Weatherup.
They face a total of 19 charges related to phone hacking, or "conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority," over a six-year span. More than 600 people were victims, prosecutors said. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills were among the victims named by prosecutors.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
Brooks, Coulson, Mulcaire and three others are accused of intercepting the voice mails of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who was abducted and later found murdered.
"I am not guilty of these charges," Brooks said in a statement. "I did not authorize, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship."
"The charge concerning Milly Dowler is particularly upsetting," Brooks continued, "not only as it is untrue but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime. I will vigorously defend these allegations."
Coulson, former communications director for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, issued a similar denial. "Anyone who knows me, or who worked with me, would know that I wouldn't, and more importantly that I didn't, do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation," Coulson said. "At the News of the World we worked on behalf of the victims of crime, particularly violent crime, and the idea that I would sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations is simply untrue."
All of the accused are expected to be freed on bail after they are formally charged. Their first court date has yet to be determined.
Brooks, a favorite of News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch, resigned in the wake of the phone-hacking allegations against News International in July 2011. Murdoch then shut down News of the World.