STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
We've been following some big developments today in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal in Britain. Prosecutors are charging eight people - including a former top aide to Prime Minister David Cameron - and a woman who was Rupert Murdoch's top lieutenant. NPR's Philip Reeves reports.
PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Prosecutors have spent many long days plowing through a mountain of information garnered by one of the biggest investigations mounted by Scotland Yard. They've studied allegations that hundreds of people were victims of phone hacking by staff at Murdoch's now-closed News of the World, including former senior British government ministers, film stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney. Now those same prosecutors have decided there are grounds for bringing criminal charges. The announcement was made by Alison Levitt, a lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service.
ALISON LEVITT: I have concluded that in relation to eight of those 13 suspects, there is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to one or more offenses.
REEVES: Andy Coulson is among the eight now facing prosecution. He's a former editor of the News of the World. Six months after standing down because of the hacking affair, Coulson controversially became Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief. He resigned from that job last year.
Coulson now faces charges of conspiring to intercept communications, including an allegation of hacking the voice mail of a murdered 13-year-old, Milly Dowler, the case that turned the hacking affair into an international scandal. This is awkward for Cameron - a fact conceded by one of Cameron's own Conservative colleagues, John Whittingdale.
JOHN WHITTINGDALE: Obviously, it is embarrassing, the fact that a former director of communications is being charged with criminal offenses. But David Cameron has said very clearly that he was assured by Mr. Coulson he had no involvement, no knowledge, and he accepted that.
REEVES: Rebekah Brooks is also on the list. She's already facing trial on other counts. Now she's being charged in connection with phone hacking, as well. Brooks was a shining star, a good friend of Prime Minister Cameron, a former News of the World editor who rose to become the head of Murdoch's British subsidiary, News International. She's issued a statement, denying guilt.
Philip Reeves, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.