Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International, arrives at Newbury racecourse in November.
Credit: Alan Crowhurst

Eight former newspaper employees are to face charges over phone hacking, British prosecutors have announced.

They include Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of the British newspaper division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., News International; and Andy Coulson, ex-communications director to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Both once edited the News of the World, the now defunct tabloid that obtained information for its stories by listening in to private cell phone messages.

The prosecution will argue that more than 600 people had their communications intercepted unlawfully between October 2000 and August 2006. Police have said they believe there were as many as 4,775 victims, the Guardian reported

In one particularly egregious instance, the paper's staff are accused of accessing the voicemails of a 13-year-old murder victim, Milly Dowler, shortly after she was first reported missing in 2002.

Brooks and Coulson will both be prosecuted in connection with that case.

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Brooks has issued a statement in which, according to the BBC, she denies that she authorized or even knew of phone hacking while she was editor. She described the charge relating to Dowler as "particularly upsetting." 

The other people to be charged are: former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former assistant editor Ian Edmondson, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, former assistant editor James Weatherup and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

In total, the eight accused will face 19 charges of conspiracy unlawfully to intercept communications. According to Reuters, the maximum sentence for phone hacking is two years in prison, and/or a fine.

Today's announcement comes a day after investigators said they were now looking at evidence that suggests newspaper staff obtained information from stolen cell phones.

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