Ex-Cameron aide, Murdoch executive to be charged with offering bribes to get access to royals

Prime Minister David Cameron’s former media chief and the former head of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper business will be charged with conspiring to pay officials for private information about the royal family, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The charges against ex-Cameron aide Andy Coulson relate to his time as editor of the Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid.

But the prosecutor’s decision is a blow to the reputation of Cameron, who has been forced to defend his hiring of Coulson since a phone-hacking scandal exploded last year at the now-defunct News of the World.

Critics say Cameron ignored warnings about Coulson’s reputation before appointing him to shape his media strategy to better connect with voters.

The charge against former Murdoch executive Rebekah Brooks, whose intimate texts and e-mails to Cameron were revealed at a public inquiry into press standards, compounds the embarrassment. Asked if hiring Coulson and being so close to Brooks reflected badly on his judgment, Cameron said he had frequently made clear his “regret” on the issue.

Since resigning from his Downing Street post in 2011, Coulson has been charged with conspiracy to hack into phone messages and perjury.

Brooks was charged with conspiring to authorize payments of about 100,000 pounds ($160,100) to a member of the Defense Ministry to generate stories and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Nov. 29.

She has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said they will also charge Clive Goodman, the former royal correspondent of the News of the World, for conspiring to pay public officials for the “Green Book” of royal contact details.

— Reuters

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