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Posted at 01:14 PM ET, 03/13/2012

Rebekah Brooks arrested — what does her charge mean?

Flame-haired former News International executive and Rupert Murdoch deputy Rebekah Brooks was re-arrested Tuesday. Her charge, according to the British Metropolitan police: A conspiracy to “pervert the course of justice.”


Rebekah Brooks. (Phil Noble / Reuters - REUTERS)

Five other suspects, including her racehorse trainer husband, a friend of the British prime minister, were also arrested, The Post’s Karla Adam reports.

For those of us on the other side of the pond, this isn’t a familiar offense. In England and Wales, it is a crime under common law. In this particular case, the charge indicates investigators may be focusing on a possible coverup by Brooks and others of the illegal hacking — rather than the hacking itself, the Associated Press reports.

The crime of perverting the course of justice carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to British common law. It can include fabricating or disposing of evidence, intimidating or threatening a witness or juror and intimidating or threatening a judge.

Possible defenses for the crime include intoxication, duress and necessity. Brooks and the five other suspects may have a difficult time using any of those three.

News Corporation executives last year claimed that phone hacking within the company was limited to just one shameless reporter and detective, both of whom went to jail.

But as allegations mounted that hundreds of voicemails had been hacked under Brooks’ watch, Murdoch accepted his deputy’s resignation.

Brooks was first arrested last year, on “suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications” and “suspicion of corruption allegations,” according to the AP. She was held for 48 hours.

By  |  01:14 PM ET, 03/13/2012

Tags:  World, U.K., Rebekah Brooks, phone hacking, arrests, common law

 
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