Rebekah Brooks to be charged with perverting the course of justice

The former head of News International and her husband Charlie Brooks face charges over phone-hacking

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that Rebekah Brooks will be charged with perverting the course of justice.

This makes the former chief executive of News International the first person to face charges in Operation Weeting, the criminal investigation into phone hacking. She was initially arrested in March 2011. The inquiry, lasting over 18 months, has involved 185 police officers.

Her husband, Charlie Brooks, is also going to be charged. The racehorse trainer is a friend and former schoolmate of the Prime Minister David Cameron.

The couple, who were informed of the decision this morning when they answered bail, said:

We deplore this weak and unjust decision. After the further unprecedented posturing of the CPS we will respond later today after our return from the police station.

They will now be summoned to court to hear the formal charges against them.

The CPS said that four other people will also face charges. They are News International's head of security. Mark Hanna, Brooks’ former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, as well as a News International chauffeur and a security consultant, who have not been named.

Rebekah and husband Charlie leaving the High Court after giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, May 11 2012. Both are to be charged with perverting the course of justice. Photograph: Getty Images

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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