• Four News International staff to be charged with conspiracy

• Crown Prosecution Service said that five people are to face action as part of Operation Elveden

• The others are former News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman, former Sun chief reporter John Kay and Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan-Barber

• 52 people have been arrested as part of Operation Elveden, two of whom have been told they will face no further action

• Goodman and Coulson face charges relating to payments to public officials for information including the ‘Green Book’ royal phone directory

• Brooks and Kay to be charged in relation to alleged payments of £100,000 to MoD worker Barber for stories which appeared in the Sun

David Cameron’s former spin doctor was charged yesterday with illegally purchasing sensitive information about the Royal Family. Andy Coulson is accused of conspiring to obtain an internal telephone directory for the Royal Household. The directory, known as the Green Book, includes landlines and mobile numbers for royal aides. The offence is alleged to have taken place while he oversaw the work of News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman.

The claims were revealed as Coulson, Goodman, two other News International employees and a Ministry of Defence official were accused of a ‘cash for stories’ conspiracy.

Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International, has been charged with paying a defence strategist £100,000 for information over a seven-year period. The announcement was the most significant yet in the Scotland Yard investigation into corrupt payments to public officials.
It threw News International into a fresh crisis as claims against the company continued to mount and the first formal allegations were made relating to The Sun newspaper.

Coulson and Brooks face a tangle of three separate sets of complex charges linked to their conduct at News International. Judge Mr Justice Fulford may yet decide to combine some or all of the cases before the first trial opens before a jury next September. The Prime Minister dodged questions about the phone-hacking and bribery scandal and the role of his ex-communications chief yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference in Northern Ireland before the impending G8 summit, Mr Cameron said he did not want to prejudice impending court hearings.

He said: ‘I’ve made clear my regret on many occasions about this issue. We should allow the police and the prosecuting authorities to follow the evidence wherever it leads.’

Alison Levitt QC, of the Crown Prosecution Service, announced two groups of suspects will face trial over the bribery claims. Coulson and Goodman will face charges over two alleged conspiracies, one in 2002-03 and one in 2005, relating to the authorisation of payments to officials. Coulson said: ‘I am extremely disappointed by this latest CPS decision. I deny the allegations made against me and will fight the charges in court.’

The second alleged conspiracy involved Brooks, during her time as editor of The Sun, her chief reporter John Kay and MoD official Bettina Jordan-Barber.
Jordan-Barber, who works at a base in Upavon, Wiltshire, is accused of accepting cash for information that formed the basis of ‘a series’ of stories.
The mother of two, who has been suspended from her job as a ‘strategy officer’, co-ordinated visits to operations in Afghanistan. Detectives from Scotland Yard’s Operation Elveden have so far arrested 52 people, including 27 journalists, six police officers and 12 public officials.

The sprawling inquiry into claims officials were bribed for information emerged in the aftermath of the phone-hacking scandal, which has its own inquiry, Operation Weeting.

All five will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court next Thursday accused of conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office. The offence carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

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