The two leading figures in the News of the World corruption scandal, Andy Coulson and Rebecca Brooks, have been charged with further offences in the ongoing investigation into illegal phone-tapping and bribery of officials.
Coulson, formerly Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief, was charged with conspiracy to pay officials for private information on the royal family to add to earlier charges of conspiracy in phone-tapping, and perjury.
Brooks has been charged with conspiring to authorise payments to a member of the Ministry of Defence. She also faces earlier phone-tapping and perverting the course of justice charges.
The scandal will not go away for Cameron or his government and is highly embarrassing as Cameron hired Coulson against advice to run his media operation, and is a personal friend of Brooks and her husband, who are neighbours.
However the latest development may contain a ticking time-bomb for the pair’s former employer, Rupert Murdoch. Prosecutors have charged for the first time a former Sun newspaper employee, the paper’s chief reporter from 1990 to 2011, John Kay.
Until now Murdoch has been able to erect a firewall around the jewel in his UK press crown, the highly profitable and influential mass-maket tabloid ‘The Sun’, despite the paper’s pioneering of such tactics and its role as an integral part of the Murdoch method of gathering, and selling news. With the charging of Kay, this may no longer be tenable.