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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Ignored by the media, the Liberal Democrats are experiencing a revival

The crushed Liberals are doing particularly well in areas that voted Conservative in 2015 - and Remain in 2016. 

The Liberal Democrats had another good night last night, making big gains in by-elections. They won Adeyfield West, a seat they have never held in Dacorum, with a massive swing. They were up by close to the 20 points in the Derby seat of Allestree, beating Labour into second place. And they won a seat in the Cotswolds, which borders the vacant seat of Witney.

It’s worth noting that they also went backwards in a safe Labour ward in Blackpool and a safe Conservative seat in Northamptonshire.  But the overall pattern is clear, and it’s not merely confined to last night: the Liberal Democrats are enjoying a mini-revival, particularly in the south-east.

Of course, it doesn’t appear to be making itself felt in the Liberal Democrats’ poll share. “After Corbyn's election,” my colleague George tweeted recently, “Some predicted Lib Dems would rise like Lazarus. But poll ratings still stuck at 8 per cent.” Prior to the local elections, I was pessimistic that the so-called Liberal Democrat fightback could make itself felt at a national contest, when the party would have to fight on multiple fronts.

But the local elections – the first time since 1968 when every part of the mainland United Kingdom has had a vote on outside of a general election – proved that completely wrong. They  picked up 30 seats across England, though they had something of a nightmare in Stockport, and were reduced to just one seat in the Welsh Assembly. Their woes continued in Scotland, however, where they slipped to fifth place. They were even back to the third place had those votes been replicated on a national scale.

Polling has always been somewhat unkind to the Liberal Democrats outside of election campaigns, as the party has a low profile, particularly now it has just eight MPs. What appears to be happening at local by-elections and my expectation may be repeated at a general election is that when voters are presented with the option of a Liberal Democrat at the ballot box they find the idea surprisingly appealing.

Added to that, the Liberal Democrats’ happiest hunting grounds are clearly affluent, Conservative-leaning areas that voted for Remain in the referendum. All of which makes their hopes of a good second place in Witney – and a good night in the 2017 county councils – look rather less farfetched than you might expect. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.