Coulson, Brooks face bribe charges

Five people including former spin doctor Andy Coulson and ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks are facing charges linked to alleged bribery of public officials.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced yesterday that Coulson and former News of the World (NOTW) royal correspondent Clive Goodman are accused of a conspiracy to pay for information that included contact details for the royal family.

Brooks and former Sun chief reporter John Kay are charged with conspiring to pay Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan-Barber around £100,000 for information.

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Yesterday Coulson, who was editor of the NOTW, denied any wrongdoing.

He said: “I am extremely disappointed by this latest CPS decision. I deny the allegations made against me and will fight the charges in court.”

David Cameron’s former spin doctor Coulson, 44, and Goodman face two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office – one between August 31 2002 and January 31 2003, and the other between January 31 and June 3 2005.

They relate to the alleged request and authorisation of payments to public officials in exchange for information, including a royal phone directory known as the “Green Book”.

It contained contact details for the royal family and members of the household.

Brooks, Kay and Jordan-Barber face one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office between January 1 2004 and January 31 this year.

That relates to allegations that Jordan-Barber was paid to provide information to the Sun.

Scotland Yard said Kay, 69, answered bail at a north London police station yesterday morning and was charged. He will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on November 29.

Solicitor Henri Brandman, who is representing Kay, said: “Neither my client nor I will be making any comment in respect of the matter at the present time.”

There is a remaining suspect who is still being investigated in relation to the charges faced by Brooks, Kay and Barber.

Prosecutors said the file passed to them by police related to two journalists and two public officials.

Alison Levitt QC, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said: “All of these matters were considered carefully in accordance with the DPP’s guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media. This guidance asks prosecutors to consider whether the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings.”

So far, 52 people have been arrested as part of Operation Elveden, the investigation into alleged corrupt payments to public officials. Two of those, a retired police officer and a former journalist, have been told they will face no further action.

A senior counter-terrorism detective, Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, has already been charged and is due to face trial in January.

Operation Elveden is being run alongside two others: Operation Weeting, which is looking at allegations of phone hacking, and Operation Tuleta, an inquiry into accusations of computer hacking and other privacy breaches.

Eight people including Coulson and Brooks face charges linked to an alleged conspiracy to hack phones.

The others are private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and five former News of the World journalists – ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, ex-chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former reporter James Weatherup.