Rebekah Brooks, the former top aide to Rupert Murdoch and friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, appeared in court for the first time Wednesday to face charges relating to the phone-hacking scandal.
Her appearance came amid fresh political shockwaves from the scandal, with a rift opening in the coalition government over dealings with Murdoch’s News Corp and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg testifying at a press ethics inquiry.
Brooks, 44, her racehorse trainer husband Charlie Brooks, 49, and four other people face charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by obstructing investigations into wrongdoing at the News of the World tabloid.
Brooks and her husband arrived at Westminster Magistrates Court in London in a black London taxi where a huge scrum of cameramen and reporters was waiting for them. Police whisked them past the queue for security.
She was wearing a green scarf and dark blue jacket and sat next to her husband, who wore a charcoal suit and navy tie, an AFP reporter in court said. The couple looked relaxed and were both smiling, unlike the other defendants.
After a short hearing, their first since they were charged on May 15, they were bailed to appear at Southwark Crown Court on June 22. All spoke only to confirm their dates of birth and addresses.
Rebekah Brooks faces three charges of removing boxes of material from the archive of News International, the UK newspaper arm of Murdoch’s News Corp, and trying to conceal documents, computers and other material from police.
The flame-haired Brooks edited the News of the World from 2000-2003 and then the Sun, Murdoch’s daily tabloid. She resigned as chief executive of News International in July, days after the weekly tabloid closed down in disgrace.
Charlie Brooks, Cheryl Carter, 48, Brooks’s personal assistant, Mark Hanna, the head of security at News International, Brooks’s chauffeur Paul Edwards, 47, who was employed by News International, and Daryl Jorsling, 39, who provided security for Brooks that was supplied by NI, all face one charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The charges carry a potential term of life imprisonment.
Brooks moved in the highest circles of British politics, and testified to the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics inquiry last month about her close friendship with Conservative prime minister Cameron.
Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister in the coalition government, appeared before the inquiry on Wednesday where he initially answered questions about the relationship between politicians and the press.
“The idea that politicians and the press should operate in hermetically sealed silos is completely unrealistic,” he said.
Cameron is due to appear before the inquiry on Thursday, when he is likely to face scrutiny over his ties to Brooks — including the fact that he went riding on one of her horses.
He also faces pressure on Wednesday after the Liberal Democrats said they would not back under fire Conservative culture minister Jeremy Hunt over his handling of a bid for News Corp for control of pay-TV giant BSkyB.
Clegg told his lawmakers they could abstain from a vote introduced by the opposition Labour party calling for a probe into whether Hunt broke the ministerial code of conduct. Cameron has refused to hold any such probe.
The government is still likely to win Wednesday’s non-binding vote.
News Corp abandoned the bid when the hacking scandal blew up last year.
The charges against Brooks and the other five defendants all relate to early July 2011, a frantic period during which Murdoch closed down the News of the World after it emerged that it had hacked the phone of Milly Dowler, a murdered schoolgirl.
They are the first since Scotland Yard opened a huge new investigation into hacking and bribery in which more than 40 people have been arrested.
A News of the World journalist and a private detective were jailed for hacking in 2007 but the paper insisted they were rogue operators.
Florida cop runs down joy-riding black teen on bicycle — then officers shock him with a Taser
Florida police chased down a joy-riding black teenager, struck the bicycle he was riding and then violently arrested him after he fled in terror.
Jaydon Stubbs and four friends were riding July 17 on their way to Hollywood Beach when an officer spotted the teens in an area where there had been a string of recent burglaries, reported WPLG-TV.
The officer saw the boys popping wheelies and ignoring traffic laws, so she tried to stop them for questioning -- but they split up and rode away from her.
9/11 first responder goes on Fox and destroys Rand Paul’s phony fiscal conservatism: It’s insulting to our intelligence
During a Fox News interview on Tuesday, a 9/11 first responder blasted Republican senators who raised concerns about a bill to help compensate those who were injured during the 2001 terrorist attacks and its aftermath.
The Senate is expected to pass legislation that would fund the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund through 2090, despite Republican senators Rand Paul (KY) and Mike Lee (UT) stalling the bill after raising concerns about the cost.
"[Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell has been nothing but gracious. He kept his word. When we had that meeting with, I can tell you he is keeping his word. While we don’t always agree on everything, he has kept his word, and he helped us get here today," said John Feal, a demolition specialist whose foot was crushed during the 9/11 recovery effort.
Here’s how Boris Johnson is already shaping up to be Britain’s Trump
On Tuesday, Boris Johnson, former British Foreign Secretary and leader of the Conservative Party, secured the votes in Parliament to become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
It is an outcome that was long considered likely — and it creates parallels with the 2016 election of President Donald Trump in the United States, as there are a great many similarities between the politics and styles of these two men, notes NPR.
First, and most obviously, both men are brusque right-wing populists who have made controlling immigration their core issue on the political stage — in Trump's case it is building the wall, while in Johnson's case it is implementing Brexit.