LONDON - Rebekah Brooks, a former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper arm, has been charged with perverting the course of justice over a phone hacking scandal at one of the media mogul's papers, British prosecutors said on Tuesday.
"I have concluded ... there is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction," said Alison Levitt, Principal Legal Advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Also charged were Brooks's race horse trainer husband Charlie, her secretary and other staff from News International, including her driver and security officials from the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp media empire.
The maximum sentence for perverting the course of justice is a life prison term.
The news is a personal blow for Murdoch and also embarrassing for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was close friends with Brooks and her husband.
Police re-launched an investigation in January last year into claims journalists at Murdoch's News of the World tabloid routinely hacked into the phones of celebrities, politicians and victims of crime to generate front page stories.
They are also investigating whether staff hacked into computers and made illegal payments to public officials including the police to get ahead in their reporting.
More than 160 staff are now working on one of the biggest investigations ever carried out by London police and almost 50 people have been arrested.