Former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks has, as expected, been charged by the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service with three charges of conspiracy to pervert the course for allegedly removing and concealing information pertaining to the Metropolitan Police’s investigations into phone hacking and illegal payments to police officers.
Rather unexpectedly Brooks and her husband Charlie have come out swinging with the following statement (released before the CPS statement, a case of getting your retaliation in first):
“We have this morning been informed by the Office of the Department of Public Prosecutions that we are to be charged with perverting the course of justice.
“We deplore this weak and unjust decision.
“After the further unprecedented posturing of the CPS we will respond later today after our return from the police station.”
Now something tells me this wasn’t penned with the assistance of Brooks’ no doubt highly-paid lawyers (her old employer News Corporation will be picking up the bill). It’s usual on these occasions to respond more in sorrow than anger, announcing your trust that the peerless UK legal system will shine the laser of truth on whatever unfortunate misunderstanding got you into trouble with the beak in the first place.
But that’s not Rebekah’s way. Fresh from a rousing encounter with Leveson Inquiry QC Robert Jay last Friday (“you need better sources Mr Jay”) she has clearly decided that defence is the best form of attack. Accusing the CPS of ‘unprecedented posturing’ is pretty strong, as is referring to the decision to charge her as ‘weak and unjust.’ Unjust maybe (from her point of view) but weak?
She now has to set off to Milton Keynes police station to renew her bail. And what will she say then?
Wasn’t Milton Keynes, Lewisham for Rebekah, Hammersmith for Charlie.
Brooks enlarged on her position thus:
“Whilst I have always respected the criminal justice system, you have to question whether this decision has been made on a proper impartial assessment of the evidence. Although I understand the need for a thorough investigation, I am baffled by the decision to charge me.
“However, I cannot express my anger enough that those close to me have unfairly been dragged into this (five associates, including her husband, have also been charged).
“As the details of the case emerge people will see today as an expensive sideshow, and a waste of public money as a result of this weak and unjust decision.”
Husband Charlie raised doubts that his wife would get a fair trial.
“There are 172 police officers, about the equivalent of eight murder squads, working on this; so it doesn’t surprise me that the pressure is on to prosecute, no matter how weak the cases will be,” he said.
“I am confident that the lack of evidence against me will be borne out in court, but I have grave doubts that my wife will ever get a fair trial, given the volume of biased commentary which she has been subject to.”
Scotland Yard said all six defendants were released on bail to appear at Westminster magistrates on 13 June.
So is it a witch hunt?
Well we haven’t seen the evidence yet. But when celebrities fall in the UK there’s a big crash and they, suddenly, find themselves remarkably friendless. And Brooks is a bigger ‘celebrity’ now than all those other ones she made a career for herself putting in the News of the World and the Sun.
The whole phone hacking, police, politicos scandal has just moved into even more dangerous territory for the British establishment figures (including PM David Cameron) trying desperately to stay out of it.
Brooks clearly isn’t going to dragged away to her fate without taking a few others with her.